There isn’t freedom of choice at the supermarket. What? you say. That’s not possible. There’s, like, thousands of different things to buy—including, like, 100 different kinds of cereal. But, really, four or fewer companies dominate the grocery store.
A 2013 study by the U.S. consumer rights group Food and Water Watch found that, on average, supermarket monopolies control 63.3% of the sales of 100 types of groceries, including beer, peanut butter, and ice cream. So not only does Kraft own cheese, but also coffee, fruit drinks, mayonnaise, and sour cream. And in 32 of these 100 categories, four or less control at least 75% of all sales.
Companies also own “multiple brands of the same product,” the report says, slap them with a different label, and trick consumers into thinking they’re buying an independent brand. This is true for supposedly healthier and organic products, too.
It seems that consumers are helpless at the hands of these “Grocery Goliaths.” This is especially disturbing after you learn that, between 2010 and 2012, “grocery food prices rose twice as quickly as average wages.” So, how do you gain back your freedom? For starters, try shopping at the farmers market.
And since infographics make most everything easier to understand, here’s one by Finances Online, which illustrates how the big companies own the food industry.