Is Freedom of Choice Really an Illusion?
Do we really have a choice? 11 mega-conglomerates and the brands that they own. These companies — Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez — each employ thousands and make billions of dollars in revenue every year.
The rapid rise of variation in everyday goods and services, from which cereal we eat in the morning to which toothpaste we brush our teeth with at night, gives the perception of unlimited choice. For example, if you’re deciding which bottled water to buy, the possibilities range from budget brands, like Deer Park or Ozarka, to higher-end options, like Perrier or S. Pellegrino. But this appearance of choice is actually manufactured. All of the aforementioned brands are owned by one company: Nestle.
Despite the amount of choices in the consumer market, several big companies own a large majority of major brands, effectively controlling everything you buy.
So, how much of “choice” is really controlled by big business, and how well do Americans understand which corporations have a stake in the goods and services they rely on every day? To find out, we took an in-depth look at the major companies that own a majority of America’s food and consumer goods.