Welcome to our Top 50 Food Packaging Companies cover story, where we bring you the biggest names in the packaged food industry. You’ll notice some shifting around this year as companies merge or split off, while some smaller companies continue to grow exponentially. Welcome, Chobani, to our number 50 spot with over $1 billion in sales. This yogurt mega-brand shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s no surprise that the top five companies remain the same, year after year, though the order has changed slightly. The Kraft Heinz Company comes in this year in the number seven spot with an estimated $24.43 billion in food revenue.Last year the two companies were reported separately; this is the first year we have them on the list under the new company name. You may notice it was a big growth period for Post Holdings, as it doubled its revenue from 2014 to 2015 due to some big acquisitions including MOM Brands and PowerBar. In March 2015, Big Heart Pet Brands joined the J.M. Smucker Company. This year’s chart keeps the companies separate, based on the financial data we found. Going forward, Big Heart will no longer be its own entry in the chart. Changes are always underway in the packaged food industry, but they are exciting changes that mean big rewards for consumers, from more offerings, convenient packaging options to healthier food choices.
Our top 50 food packagers list uses sources that include annual company reports, news reports, company websites and direct company contacts. Sales are based on calendar year 2015 or the most recent fiscal year that conforms to that timeframe. We used XE, the online currency counter (xe.com), where necessary. We have also used all available resources to separate out food revenue from beverages and other segment revenue. Some companies are marked with an asterisk to indicate an estimate when one of the following occurred: it was impossible to get a breakdown of food vs. other segments; it’s a private company and news sources reported the data, not the company directly or no new information could be found, resulting in us reporting 2014’s revenue.
Healthier, more informed packaging is coming soon
The FDA finalized the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices as they shop. So what will you notice on the new labels? The type size is increased for calories, serving size and servings per container, while both calorie amount and serving size is bolded for easier reading. Consumers won’t have to search the label for the information as it will be front and center.
Another noticeable change is added sugars, instead of just total sugars, to inform consumers about the added sugar versus natural sugars found in foods like fruit. Also new from the FDA: more reasonable and current serving sizes will be reflected, because let’s face it, we eat more than we did 20 years ago, the last time the nutrition label and serving sizes were changed. For example, that 20-ounce soda you can buy from the vending machine will list it as one serving instead of 1.5 or 2, because most consumers drink the whole thing in one sitting.
Manufacturers do not need to make these labeling changes until June 2018 (even later for smaller companies), but change is on the horizon to help consumers make better informed decisions on what they eat and drink.
BPA phasing out?
Two big names from our list have reported efforts to completely eliminate the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) from their food packaging. Campbell Soup Company discloses its plan to complete a transition to cans that do not use BPA linings by the middle of 2017. The company is on track to have 75% of its soup portfolio in non-BPA lined cans by December 2016. The company is also currently testing alternatives to BPA coatings used on other packaging, including aluminum cans used for V8 beverages and metal screw top lids on glass jars.
Del Monte Foods announces plans for conversion to non-BPA packaging and an increase in non-GMO product offerings. Starting with the company’s fresh pack production in 2016, which began in May and runs through October, all Del Monte® fruit and tomato products, as well as nearly 100% of vegetable products found under the Del Monte brand, will convert to non-BPA linings.
Mars labels packages as occasional foods, such as candy
Mars Food announces a new global Health and Wellbeing Ambition to create and promote healthier food choices and to encourage consumers to cook and share healthier meals with others. Through the Ambition, Mars Food will help consumers differentiate between “everyday” and “occasional” options, based on nutritional content. The company knows that some if its trademark offerings are higher in salt, added sugar or fat, but states that these products are not intended to be eaten daily. Mars Food will provide guidance to consumers on its website, and directly on the product packaging, regarding how often these meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet. The Mars Food website will be updated within the next few months with a list of “occasional” products – those to be enjoyed once per week – and a list of “everyday” products – including those to be reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar or fat.