Ithaca Blog

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Corporate Takeovers of "Natural" Companies: Bert's Bees Sold for $1 Billion

American consumers who want to buy from small, principled businesses have to be pretty nimble these days. Bert's Bees, the Maine maufacturer of natural health and beauty products, is the latest such business to sell out to a corporation: to the bleach company Clorox, for almost a billion dollars ($913 million).

Colgate-Palmolive recently paid $100 million for Tom's of Maine, the pioneering maker of natural toothpastes and deodorants.

Multinational food giant Unilever bought the Ben & Jerry's ice cream company in 2000. The founders are no longer involved in the company's daily operations.

Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen are makers of organic frozen and canned products now owned by General Mills.

Perhaps the local food movement that has developed in recent years ("local is the new organic") will extend to sellers as well as growers, as this trend of corporate takeovers continues. Part of the issue in the "small is beautiful" movement has always been about control, not just about quality, of food and consumer goods.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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