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How Much Do We Really Know About the Businesses We “Know?”

Was watching a special on CNBC on Marriott and was shocked to learn that Marriott doesn’t actually own many hotels.  Rather Real Estate Investment Trusts and other companies own the hotels and pay Marriott to manage them!

That reminded me of two shocking about two product ownership flow charts I have seen:

Who actually owns Common House Hold Products?

You’ll most likely need to click to enlarge the picture:

Common Household Product Matrix

It is almost like you literally can’t avoid buying from a certain company.  For example lets say you don’t like “Dove” because they club baby seals (disclaimer: Dove doesn’t club baby seals) so you buy Axe body wash…it doesn’t matter! You still provided Unilever with money.

You could buy stock in these 10 parent companies and basically own every consumer good in existence!

* I am not sure who created this flow chart so I can’t give credit where credit is due.

Product Ownership Flow Chart for Organic Products

Even crazier is to find out that your favorite “pure” product is owned by a ridiculously huge conglomerate.  I am sure the landscape has changed, but I found an excellent flow chart prepared by Professor Howard out of Michigan University (You’ll have to open the PDF below):


I also found a list of organic parent companies who have lobbied against GMO regulations:

Pepsi-Co $1,716,300
  • Tostito’s Organic
  • Tropicana Organic
  • Naked Juice
Coca-Cola $1,164,400
  • Odwalla
  • Honest Tea
ConAgra $1,076,700
  • Orville Redenbacher’s Organic
  • Hunt’s Organic
  • Alexia Foods
  • Lightlife
Kellogg’s $632,500
  • Keebler Organic
  • Kellogg’s Organic
  • Bear Naked
  • Kashi
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Wholesome & Hearty
J.M Smucker $388,000
  • Santa Cruz Organics
  • Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter
  • R.W. Knudsen
  • Natural Brew
  • Tenderleaf Tea
Hormel Foods $374,300
  • Natural Choice
General Mills $519,401
  • Small Planet Foods
  • Cascadian Farm
  • Muir Glen
  • Gold Medal Organic
  • Larabar
Bimbo Bakeries* $338,300
  • Earth Grains
DelMonte $189,975
  • DelMonte brand organic pickles
  • DelMonte brand organic canned tomato products
  • Fruit Naturals
Hershey $395,100
  • Dagoba
Dean Foods $253,950
  • White Wave/Silk
  • Horizon
  • Organic Cow of Vermont
Campbell Soup Co. $70,455
  • V8 Organic
  • Prego Organic
  • Swanson’s Organic
  • Pace Organic
  • Campbell’s Organic
  • Bolthouse Farms
McCormick $248,200
  • McCormick Organic Spices

Please note I didn’t verify the data, but some pretty shocking information about some product ownership.



  1. If you have any moral issue with one of the majors good luck purchasing a similar product. You’re probably going to have to make it yourself, of course for some of the base products you might still be funding them. Unless it’s some very serious morality issues I don’t worry about it, every company is going to have it’s own issues. I remember when the Walmart bribery scandal in Mexico broke and there were all sorts of people shouting foul. It’s not like they were killing people that didn’t want to move for a new store to be opened, they were just bribing government officials which is actually pretty normal in most of the non-“First World” countries.

  2. Now that is interesting. I knew that many of the major “smaller” or niche type of brands were actually owned by larger entities. However, the extent of the reach of those entities, along with the concentration of ownership, is still a bit surprising. A few of those names took me by surprise, in terms of their actual ownership.


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