The Agrifood Atlas: how corporations are tightening their stranglehold on people’s food | Friends of the Earth Europe
New research published today shows the dramatic impacts of the global food system being rapidly monopolised by ever-fewer, ever-larger corporations at every stage of the food chain. This alarming trend poses risks to consumer choice, jobs and working conditions and food production in the future, warn the authors of the Agrifood Atlas.
Between 2015 and 2016, five of the largest 12 mergers between publicly-traded companies came in the agrifood sector, with a total value of almost US $500 billion.
The authors raise concerns that the growing consolidation in the food chain is causing:
Less consumer choice: increased monopolies are putting the food chain into even fewer hands. Almost half of all food sold in the EU comes from just ten supermarket chains and 50 food processing companies account for half of all global food sales. Only four companies produce 60% of the world’s baby food.
A risk to future food production: merged agrifood corporations are driving industrialisation along the whole food chain, with 20% of the world’s agricultural land now degraded.
Job cuts and low wages: The current wave of mergers in the processing industries – such as Kraft-Heinz and AB Inbev-SAB Miller – were driven by cost saving calculations, and led to thousands of job cuts.
Price pressure through buyers’ cartels: Food retailers and processors put pressure on their suppliers, squeezing out smaller producers, and poor working conditions and low pay exist along the food chain. Around 80% of the global tea market is controlled by just three corporations.
A situation where the poorest stay hungry despite an oversupply of food. The global harvest of edible crops is today equal to around 4,600 kcal per person per day – but more than half of this is lost in storage, via distribution, food waste and being fed to livestock.