The Illusion of Choice—These 11 Companies Control Nearly Everything You Buy


from The Free Thought Project:

Just 11 companies own and control most every single item on a grocery store shelf — yes, even the organic items.

(Wikibuy)—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. Then, we surveyed 3,000 Americans about their understanding of which big businesses own which major brands. Check out our full visual below, or skip ahead to see our survey findings.

These 11 Consumer Goods and Food Companies Control What You Buy

Ceiling-high grocery store shelves may give the perception of endless options, but a closer look at the brands and the companies that own them reveal a complex interconnection. Check out our full visual above to get a better sense of just how intertwined some brands are, and read on to learn more about how well Americans understand this relationship.

Major players


Founded: 1906 (as Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company)

2017 revenue: $12.93 billion USD

Major brands: Cheez-It, Eggo, Famous Amos, Keebler, Town House

General Mills

Founded: 1928

2017 revenue: $15.62 billion USD

Major brands: Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Gold Medal, Cheerios, Chex

Kraft-Heinz Company

Founded: 2015 (merger between Kraft Foods Inc. and Heinz)

2017 revenue: $18.22 billion

Major brands: Heinz Ketchup, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Lunchables, Maxwell

Mondelez International

Founded: 2012 (spin-off of Kraft Foods Inc.)

2017 revenue: $25.9 billion

Major brands: Cadbury, Chips Ahoy!, Nabisco, Oreo


Founded: 1911

2017 revenue: $35 billion

Major brands: M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, Uncle Ben’s


Founded: 1892

2017 revenue: $35.41 billion

Major brands: Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, Glaceau


Founded: 1929

2017 revenue: $62.62 billion

Major brands: Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike, Popsicle, Degree, Vaseline

Procter & Gamble

Founded: 1837

2017 revenue: $65.06 billion

Major brands: Pampers, Tide, Downy, Charmin, Gillette, Crest


Founded: 1898

2017 revenue: $65.53 billion

Major brands: Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Quaker, Tropicana

Johnson & Johnson

Founded: 1886

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