Click here for the 2009 Top 100 Packagers list.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a dozen times: Food and beverage products are recession-resistant because, even in bad times, people have to eat and drink.

That’s true, up to a point…the point when it’s not true anymore, like at the tail end of 2008 and into 2009.

With unemployment so high, credit so tight and uncertainty about the future so certain, consumers closed their wallets and re-evaluated all their needs and wants. Value for the money became paramount for every product. Brands that successfully communicated this did well, regardless of their price. The ones that didn’t, well…some are just down and some are flat-out out.

Just how tough was 2008? Of the 75 companies in our Food list, 19 of them (or 25%) lost money from the year before. And 10 of the 25 companies in our Beverage list (or 40%) saw revenues slip from 2007 to 2008. Ouch.

Many businesses had to scramble to survive in this “new normal” economy; others simply shifted a bit as they recognized and exploited the opportunities in these challenges. Instead of stagnating, innovation in packaging and marketing has flourished!

The best news about 2008 is that it’s over. Now, if we could just weather 2009 and find relief soon in an economic rebound.


Since the inception of our Top 100 Packagers six years ago, we’ve been consistent in our research methodology for the lists. Here’s how we do it: Each year, we research several hundred companies using multiple sources, including annual reports, 10-K and 20-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Hoover’s Online database and internet research.

Once we’ve completed our research, we then ask each company to verify or correct our data-and fill in any missing information. Any of our estimates that aren’t verified are identified with an asterisk.

Not all companies use the same date range for their fiscal year. So, to be fair (and consistent with how we’ve done it in the past), we made sure that our rankings this year are based on global sales for fiscal 2008. If a company already had data for its 2009 fiscal year (Constellation Brands, for example), we went back to its 2008 figures.

Companies that sell both foods and beverages are listed in each market-but with their total revenues appropriately segmented (food dollars alone in the food list and beverage dollars alone in the beverage list). Because we break out revenues by specific market, you’re seeing a true field of competitors.