Organic Annie’s Sells Out to GMO General Mills

 

Annie's bunnies

The title says it all, don’t you think?  There’s a bit of a …. oh shall we say … SELL OUT here?

A LITTLE ABOUT ANNIE’S HOMEGROWN

Annie’s got their start in the organic food market in 1989 by a woman named Annie Withey.  Her soul purpose was to make a healthier version of  macaroni and cheese.  She did just that …. and more.

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The company has grown immensely in the last 25 years and has branched out beyond just mac and cheese into the snacks, crackers, pizza, salad dressings, and just recently, the frozen entrée markets.

Their earnings in the 1Q of 2014 ALONE have been a reported $39 million!

A quote from Annie’s website:

“If it’s not real, it’s not Annie’s. That’s why every ingredient we use to make our food is chosen with care.   The farmers who grow our ingredients are just as passionate about quality and sustainability as we are,  and we value the people and places that help our product travel from farm to fork. We make it our  responsibility to take on important issues–such as supporting organic practices and honest labeling –  so you can be sure that the products you buy from Annie’s are as authentic as possible.”

Annie’s Homegrown small town, farm raised philosophy resonated with consumers and their products have been taking up more and more prime space in the supermarkets each and every year.

pic source: Annie’s.com

Their website claims:

  • They only use organic sugar cane;
  • Milk withouth rBST in it (some of which is proudly sourced directly from Organic Valley);
  • They work with other trusted suppliers that source NON-GMO ingredients;
  • No artificial flavors;
  • No preservatives;
  • No synthetic colors;
  • They’ve avoided 6.8 million pounds of synthetic nitrogen, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides creating their products.

The company makes is abundantly clear they DO NOT use genetically modified products of any nature.

They are OPPOSED to GMOs so much so according to ballotpedia.org, they spent $50,000 in FAVOR of California’s Proposition 37 in 2012 which supports the mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. {source}.

They also work with the Non-GMO Project as well as Just Label It.

A LITTLE ABOUT GENERAL MILLS

California Prop 37 has both it’s supporters and it’s non-supporters.  Although Annie’s donation of $50,000 is on the lower end, the bottom line is they are still in favor of labeling GMOs.

General Mills, on the other hand, is strongly opposed to GMO labeling and in the year 2012 spent $1,135,300 AGAINST THE LABELING OF GMOs.{source}

GM launched their new version of GMO Free Cheerios back in January with all eyes on them waiting to see if other heavy hitters would soon follow.  Although GM doesn’t feel there is any harm in GMOs, they will go where the money is.  And if the consumer will spend their dollars on NON GMO products then that’s what GM will do.

This, according to GM was a SIZEABLE investment.  They had to find sourcing for organic sugar cane as well as corn starch.  The Non-GMO version of Cheerios was an epic failure and GM does not plan to reformulate any of their other products to a Non-GMO status.

We did it because we think consumers may embrace it,” General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe recently told Reuters. “But it is a sizable investment. And it wasn’t as easy as people think. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to do the same with our other products.”

What does this say?  M O N E Y  people.  The all mighty dollar is what this is all about.   General Mills is putting their profits before consumer health.

ANNIE’S FUTURE?

A quote from John Foraker, Annie’s CEO:

“I want you all to know that our mission, culture, and values and the things we stand for will remain the same. We’ll continue to make the same great products, more of them actually, using ingredients we are proud of, business practices that are respectful of the environment, and that make our planet a better place. We’ve spent 25 years building trust with consumers, one interaction at a time. We will continue to do that. Count on it. I always ask people to listen to what we say, but more importantly, watch what we do! We will not let you down! Our mission: We cultivate a healthier, happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet. that mission is hard won and has been built with integrity. We will never abandon it, but rather we will further it, by putting our product into millions of new homes, which will expand our positive impact even more. I have given 15 years of my life to that mission and I am not stopping now.   Best, John, Annie’s CEO

I have searched high and low to find a similar statement from General Mills and all I came across was a statement from GM executive vice president and chief operating officer Jeff Harmening,
“This acquisition (of Annie’s Homegrown) will significantly expand our presence in the U.S. branded organic and natural foods industry, where sales have been growing at a 12 percent compound rate over the last 10 years.”

Those two statements are worlds apart.

Larger Corporations buying out smaller organic companies isn’t anything new.  General Mills has also bought organic Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Lara Bar and Food Should Taste Good for those of you who are interested in avoiding putting any more money in GMs pockets.

Will the product remain the same?  Will GM uphold their promise to Annie’s to give the consumer an ORGANIC end product they have come to trust?

Only time will tell.

But it’s pretty hard to trust a company who has invested millions of dollars AGAINST THE LABELING OF GMOs to put the people first and source organic products and change their production.

SOCIAL MEDIA SOUNDS OFF:

There is a FIRESTORM of opinions on this buy out.  Here are a few I pulled from Facebook:

Rivkah: “General Mills is completely against GMO labeling and any initiatives to take them out of food. That directly opposes your whole mission. We have stood by Annie’s because they have not cowered down to GM and Monsanto.”

Sasha: “What a shame… A lovely brand that I have consistently shared with other has finally given in to the machine. I guess it was only time until this happened as all good things must come to an end. The loyalty of your customers wasn’t enough.”

Briana: Sell outs. Sickening. We finally fell in love with healthy choices and making the absolute best choices for our family. Annie’s was a big part of our grocery list every week. No more. We are officially done. It’s sad to see how you can sell out and care more about profits than about the quality of your product. Our kids now know to avoid your label. Thank you for outing yourselves and greedy, allowing us to add you to our ever-growing list of products to boycott.

Dave:  Wow, I hope it’s not too late for you to back out, because just like most of these other folks, I will no longer be purchasing Annie’s Products. I understand you will make efforts to stay committed to high quality, organic, non-GMO products. However, I do not wish to support General Mills, and so I can no longer support you. Sad day indeed

Head on over to Annie’s Facebook page if you’re interested in voicing your opinion too.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

The way that General Mills openly admits to the approval and use of genetically modified products and spends millions of dollars a year opposing GMO labeling on Proposition 37 buying a company whose mission statement and values SUPPORT a green, healthy, organic environment, transparency in labeling, using only organically grown ingredients with no pesticides, herbicides etc. is a little unnerving.

Let’s be honest here Annie’s products aren’t the healthiest things on the planet.  We all get that.  That’s not a surprise.  Boxed mac and cheese, no matter how you package it, is still boxed mac and cheese.

But there’s a deeper issue here.  From all the Facebook comments on Annie’s homepage it is clear there are a lot of passionate people out there who are very concerned for 3 reasons:

  1. Some are voicing concerns General Mills is not going to stand by Annie’s strict NON-GMO rules.  Here we have a company who’s middle name is sugar and the sugar beet is one of the most genetically modified crops in the Northern Hemisphere.  Why would they pay more for a crop then they have to?  Non GMO Cheerios has not given GM the recognized sales revenue they anticipated and due to that they do not plan to convert any other of their cereals to Non GMO.  So what does that say?  It says their profits are more important than your health.
  2. Annie’s sold out to a company who has spent millions of dollars OPPOSING the labeling of GMOs.  The marriage of the two just doesn’t add up.   People who buy Annie’s products are genuinely concerned about the environment, and the impact farming, pesticides and chemicals has on it.  They’d rather eat dirt than give a Monsanto~Round Up~GMO approving~ company like GM their money.
  3.  The sold to a Company they just will not support.  Period.

What are your thoughts?  Sound off …..

RESOURCES:

  • http://www.ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_37,_Mandatory_Labeling_of_Genetically_Engineered_Food_(2012)
  • www.Annies.com
  • http://www.carighttoknow.org/facts
  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/dalebuss/2014/02/20/americans-still-arent-buying-gmo-gospel-ask-general-mills/
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