Only a Handful Are Lords of the Food Harvest By Gustavo Capdevila

Dandelion Salad

By Gustavo Capdevila
GENEVA, Sep 25 (IPS)

The food and beverage industry is experiencing a high degree of concentration, with 10 distributing companies controlling 24 percent of the world market, according to a report being studied this week by workers’, employers’ and government representatives gathered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The same trend that is seen in sales is found in other stages of the industry, such as manufacture and transformation of food products, said the report’s author, Andrew Bibby, in his presentation of the ILO issues paper being discussed by the 70 participants at the Tripartite Meeting to Examine the Impact of Global Food Chains on Employment.

Bibby said that the strategy of diversification of food supply sources is no longer a novelty in the industry, and is closely linked to the globalisation of economic and trade relations.

What is new is the emergence of integrated world food chains, which employ 22 million people and are therefore a concern of the ILO’s.

At the top of the list of food and beverage companies is the Swiss company Nestlé, with 260,000 employees, followed by the Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever with 179,000 employees, and the United States’ PepsiCo with 157,000 workers, Sara Lee with 137,000, and Coca Cola with 132,300 employees.

Among corporations dedicated to retail sales, the final link in the chain, the U.S.-based Wal-Mart is in the lead with 1,800,000 employees, followed by French firm Carrefour with 440,500, the U.S. company Kroger with 290,000, Britain’s Tesco with 273,000 and the U.S.-based Albertsons with 234,000 workers.

This quasi-monopoly situation arises from the mergers and acquisitions of giant companies that have been accentuated in recent years.

continued at: TRADE: Only a Handful Are Lords of the Food Harvest

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