19 'Local And Natural' Brands That Are Owned By Giant Corporations

Burt’s Bees is marketed as a homespun natural brand from Durham, N.C.

Of course, the brand downplays that it was sold in 2007 for nearly $US1 billion to mega-corporation Clorox.

Brands like Burt’s Bees attract environmentally-conscious consumers. They rely on being marketed as local and natural, but many people have no clue that these brands are part of globe-spanning corporations.

Quality often drops as a result.

“It’s very common that when an organic food brand is acquired, that the new parent corporation reduces its commitment to organic ingredients and seeks out cheaper substitutes,” says Michigan State University professor Philip Howard, who studies the food system.

We found 19 brands that you think are small-scale artisans — but are really the latest in corporate crunchiness.

Reporting by Kim Bhasin and Patricia Laya, with additional reporting by Alison Griswold.

Hain Celestial bought Garden of Eatin' in 1998.

Garden of Eatin' makes some of the most delicious chips around -- the spicy-savory crunch of the Red Hot Blues is without comparison.

'Our all natural chips and snacks are bursting with the highest quality corn, seeds, and spices,' the company says. 'Best of all they're as hearty as they are uniquely original.'

Organic conglomerate Hain Celestial couldn't resist the crunch, nabbing the company back in 1998.

French conglomerate Danone Group has owned 85% of Stonyfield Farms since 2003.

Vermont-based Stonyfield Farms creates a beloved brand of yogurt -- one that gets shipped on railroads to conserve energy.

Danone Group, owner of Dannon yogurt and Evian water, has an 85% stake in the company.

But the yogurt's still organic: 'The company's products contain six different live, active cultures, more than any other leading brand,' the company says.

Colgate-Palmolive bought Tom's of Maine for $US100 million in 2006.

Colgate-Palmolive acquired an 84% stake in the company for roughly $US100 million. After the acquisition, Tom's of Maine loyalists grappled with whether to keep supporting the brand. Some complained about the new toothpaste's sweet flavour, the new plastic packaging, and the new smell of deodorant soap.

L'Oréal bought Body Shop for $US1.3 billion in 2006.

Immediately after the deal, consumer satisfaction with Body Shop fell almost 50%, according to an index that tracks public perception of more than 1,000 consumer brands.

Animal rights activists and multinational Swiss company Nestlé, which has a 26% share in L'Oréal, also called for a boycott of Body Shop.

Hershey's bought Dagoba Chocolate in 2006.

Hershey's announced the deal as part of 'strategic focus on the high-growth premium chocolate segment.'

'Organic chocolate products are experiencing dramatic growth as consumers continue to trade up for indulgent, high-quality products,' Richard H. Lenny, president and CEO of Hershey's said at the time.

German conglomerate JAB bought Peet's Coffee for $US1 billion in 2012.

Founded in Berkeley, California, at the height of the hippie era back in 1966, Peet's Coffee became intertwined with the Bay Area's counter-cultural vibe.

The roaster sold to Joh. A. Benckiser, owner of Jimmy Choo shoes and other ultra-premium brands.

General Mills bought chip-maker Food Should Taste Good for an undisclosed amount in 2012.

General Mills has been one of the biggest acquirers of feel-good foodstuffs -- other natural-positioned brands in its portfolio include Muir Glen, LARABAR, and the aforementioned Cascadian Farm.

In 2012 it bought Food Should Taste Good, a Massachusetts-based snack maker whose minimalist aesthetic you've probably spotted. They make those artisanal chip flavours like Sweet Potato, Lime, and Olive.

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