General Mills Buys Annie’s Homegrown for $820 Million

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One of the last large independently owned organic and natural foods brands will join the big food conglomerate General Mills. Annie’s Homegrown, known for its rabbit-shaped macaroni and cheese mixes and other packaged foods for kids will take $820 million from the food giant.

A 25-year old brand, Annie’s Homegrown has been a staple in the natural foods industry, growing at 20 percent last fiscal year. Compared with other General Mills’ brands such as Cheerios and Yoplait yogurts where sales are flat, Annie’s provides the food conglomerate a burst of fresh energy. But for natural food consumers who want to steer clear of Big Food, it creates another obstacle.

Annie’s Homegrown’s signature product—organic macaroni and cheese—was considered the natural and healthier alternative to the popular Kraft brand macaroni and cheese products that contain artificial colors and flavors. And even as Annie’s grew with sales of more than $200 million in 2013, it also grew its commitment to causes.  A mission “to cultivate a healthier, happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet,” Annie’s noted in a 2012 filing with federal security regulators just ahead of its IPO.

General Mills also owns other natural food brands including Muir Glen, Food Should Taste Good, Good Earth and Cascadian Farms. It’s the parent company to Cheerios, which announced at the beginning of the year that it had removed genetically modified ingredients from its original flavor of Cheerios. While consumers applauded the move, the company still hasn’t removed GMOs from its other offerings or brands.

Dozens of organic and natural food brands have been bought out by big food corporations. To view the complete list, click here. 

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.