The real owners of your favorite brands might surprise you
Who's REALLY behind the label?
Are your favorite products as independent as you think they are? From skincare products to organic foods, we look at the REAL names behind the brands we love.
Not only does Kellogg's make cereal, but it also owns some of our favorite snack brands too, such as Pringles, Nutri-Grain and Town House.
Coca-Cola isn't just famous for producing some of the world's famous fizzy drinks, it's also the brand behind the likes of Cappy. Available in countries all over the world, the fruit juice claims to contain more than 99% natural juice and no added sugar.
In 2007, Gerber was acquired for $5.5 billion (£4.3bn) by Nestle. Before buying the company, Nestle wasn’t a big player in the U.S. baby food market, mainly supplying the Brazilian and Chinese markets. But in 2007, Nestle Nutrition which includes Gerber had a total revenue of $8.2 billion (£6.36bn) and jumped to revenues of $9.5 billion (£7.4bn) in 2014.
YouTube is known as the go-to source for videos, and it looks as though it will continue to dominate the online video business, and the acquisition of YouTube gives Google the reigns. Per year, YouTube makes $9 billion (£7bn) from advertising, and although it is thought by some as a “break-even” company, the way it popularizes goods, entertainment and services is priceless.
Jaguar Land Rover (Tata Motors)
Some of Britain’s most iconic cars have been made by Jaguar Land Rover, but since 2008, the company has been owned by Indian firm Tata Motors. Tata paid $2.3 billion (£1.8bn) for the company, and as a popular car brand, profits haven’t been too bad either.
Scottish & Newcastle (Heineken and Carlsberg)
The brewery behind famous beers like Newcastle Brown Ale was bought jointly by Carlsberg and Heineken in 2008 after a three-month war over Scottish & Newcastle’s price tag. The company was sold for £9.9 billion (£7.7bn) and is still as popular as ever.
Stacy’s Pita Chips (PepsiCo)
Aside from selling fizzy drinks, PepsiCo is also a multinational food and beverage company and owns dozens of brands. Among them is Stacy’s Pita Chips, which was acquired by the firm in 2006 for $250 million (£194m), joining a long list of organic companies to be accused of selling out to the mainstream market.
Disney bought ABC in 1996 after years of trying to poach the broadcaster through a number of deals. ABC originally helped Disney to fund the building of Disneyland, in exchange for a weekly Sunday night show, which was also called Disneyland. ABC then went onto air The Mickey Mouse Club and, years later, sell itself to Disney for around $19 billion (£15bn).
ABC purchased ESPN in 1984, meaning that when Disney took ABC on board ESPN was a bit of a freebie for Disney. The cost of the deal isn’t clear, but in 2014 ESPN was worth over $50 billion (£39bn) alone and was also named as the world’s most valuable media company by Forbes, so we imagine it was quite pricey!
Mrs. Meyer's (SC Johnson)
Household cleaning product company Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, which markets itself as being ‘earth-friendly’, was originally produced by the Caldrea company, but was later acquired by SC Johnson, the global cleaning product supplier.
Burt's Bees (Clorox)
Another ‘earth-friendly’ skincare brand to have sold itself to a larger corporation is Burt’s Bees, which was bought by Clorox in 2007 for $913 million (£708m). At the time, sceptics worried the acquisition would affect the ethical nature of Burt’s Bees, but it soon emerged that Burt’s had actually helped to enhance the sustainability of Clorox and push for more sustainable sourcing of ingredients.
Seeds of Change (Mars)
Also creeping into the list of organic companies to sell out to large corporations is Seeds of Change, an organic seed and food company, which sold itself to Mars in 1997 for an undisclosed amount.
Naked Juice (PepsiCo)
Eager to keep its brand range looking balanced with a portfolio of healthy products, PepsiCo bought Naked Juice in 2007. The acquisition also took place with the aim of competing with Coca-Cola’s 2001 purchase of fellow juice brand Odwalla. Coca-Cola’s purchase cost $181 million (£139m), while PepsiCo’s purchase was estimated to cost around $450 million (£349m).
Simple Skincare (Unilever)
Simple Skincare was acquired by Unilever back in 2010, adding to Unilever’s vast range of hugely-successful brands. Simple was originally bought by Alberto-Culver for £240 million ($186m in today’s money) in December 2009, but Unilever snatched it up just six months later.
Like most brands owned by PepsiCo, you wouldn’t necessarily associate Quaker with the fizzy drink giant. But PepsiCo acquired the oats company back in 2001 because it wanted to add Quaker’s subsidiary Gatorade to its collection of sports drinks. Like Naked Juice, Quaker has also provided balance for the brand, as it serves as a healthier subsidiary to that of the likes of Frito-Lay, which owns a number of salty (and unhealthy) snacks.
Annie’s Homegrown (General Mills)
Annie’s, the natural and organic specialty food maker, made the leap away from the individual market after General Mills bought the Berkeley-based firm in 2014 for $820 million (£636m).
Evolution Fresh (Starbucks)
Jimmy Rosenberg, who also founded Naked Juice, sold his other juice brand Evolution Fresh to Starbucks for $39 million (£30m) in 2011. Starbucks opened its first Evolution Fresh store in March 2012, but the enterprise came among concerns that the juice stores would have much lower margins than Starbucks’ coffee shops in a highly competitive market.
Weetabix (Post Holdings)
Weetabix has been made in the UK since 1932, and was family owned until 2004. China’s Bright Food bought a 60% stake of the company in 2012 and, although sales in China have doubled since the purchase, the UK still accounts for the majority of sales. And so, Weetabix was put up for sale in January 2017 and has since been bought by US firm Post Holdings for $1.8 billion (£1.4bn).
Lärabar (General Mills)
Slowly latching onto a number of organic brands, General Mills also acquired the parent company of energy bar manufacturer Lärabar in 2008 for around $56 million (£43m).
Honest Tea (Coca-Cola)
The fizzy drink giant purchased Honest Tea in 2011 for an undisclosed sum of money. This move triggered a number of calls to boycott the tea brand after its new parent, Coca-Cola, donated money to defeat Proposition 37 – the GMO labeling initiative in California, which would have required brands to label medically-engineered food.
Wolfgang Puck (Campbell’s)
Campbell’s bought the Wolfgang Puck soup business in 2008 in an agreement that allowa Campbell’s to use the brand on soup, stock and broth products. Although the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Wolfgang Puck had sales of around $22 million ($17m) in the year before.
Cascadian Farm (General Mills)
Organic cereal brand Cascadian Farm was also poached by General Mills for an undisclosed figure in 1999. But much like many other organic brands, the sale was controversial.
Granola bar company BearNaked has been owned by Kellogg’s since 2007 when it was bought by Kashi Company, a subsidiary of the Kellogg’s brand. The founder of BearNaked, Kelly Flatley, started and sold the business for $60 million ($47m), and all before she hit 30.
Innocent Drinks (Coca-Cola)
Coca-Cola also snapped up Innocent Drinks in 2013 for around £100 million ($130m). The fizzy drinks empire already previously owned 58% of Innocent before it signed a deal, giving it at least 90% ownership. Much like Honest Tea, Innocent faced concerns its drinks were much less ‘innocent’ under Coca-Cola’s name.
Aveeno (Johnson and Johnson)
Skin care brand Aveeno was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1999 for an undisclosed amount. Like many subsidiaries of the healthcare giant, Aveeno came under fire when Johnson & Johnson was accused of including potentially cancer-causing chemicals in some of its baby products.
Mondalez, formerly Kraft, bought Cadbury in 2010 for $15 billion (£11.5bn). The deal was made under controversial circumstances, however, as Cadbury had previously been resistant to the takeover due to feeling “undervalued”. Kraft had launched a bid to pursue the UK chocolate manufacturer in 2009 as it was the last necessary component to allow Kraft to split off into two companies: a grocery business worth $16 billion (£12bn) and a global snacks business worth $32 billion (£25bn).
Duracell (Berkshire Hathaway)
Berkshire Hathaway acquired Duracell from Proctor & Gamble in 2014, but in a complex deal that saw Berkshire pay P&G $4.7 billion (£3.6bn) of the shares it owned in the company instead of paying in cash. P&G then put $1.8 billion (£1.4bn) in cash into Duracell before paying the remainder in 2015. It may be confusing to us, but it helped new Duracell chairman Warren Buffet avoid a hefty tax bill.
Adding to its range of healthier drinks, Coca-Cola also purchased Vitaminwater as part of the acquisition of Energy Brands, an enhanced water distributer. The company sold for around $4.1 billion (£3.2bn) in cash, but Coca-Cola later faced a lawsuit about claims it was misleading buyers by claiming Vitaminwater was a “healthy drink”.
Ben & Jerry's (Unilever)
World-famous ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s sold itself to multinational giant Unilever in 2001, but was instantly criticized for selling out.