A small number of large corporations own many of the brands and products we buy regularly, from food and beverage items to personal care and household products. Though we may see dozens of brands on store shelves, many are owned by the same parent companies. For example, even though Nestlé and PepsiCo present themselves as competitors, they both own dozens of brands across categories like snacks, drinks, and packaged foods. This consolidation of brands under a handful of large corporations can impact consumer choice and make it more difficult for new companies and brands to compete. However, these major consumer packaged goods companies dominate store shelves because they have the resources for marketing, distribution, and product development that smaller companies lack. For the average shopper, it is interesting and often surprising to learn about who really owns the brands you see every day. This article will highlight some of the largest corporations that own the brands consumers purchase regularly.
Nestlé is the largest food company in the world, founded in 1866 in Switzerland. Nestlé’s headquarters are located in Vevey, Switzerland. Some of Nestlé’s major brands include Nespresso, Nestea, KitKat, Nesquik, Maggi, Purina, Gerber, and Poland Spring. Nestlé has over 2000 brands in its portfolio spanning food and beverage, pet care, pharmacy products, and more.
In 2020, Nestlé generated over $84 billion in annual revenue. Nestlé has a massive global reach through its diverse brand portfolio, selling products in over 190 countries. It’s the world leader in coffee (Nescafe), bottled water (Poland Spring), milk products (Carnation), ice cream (Dreyer’s, Haagen-Dazs), and pet care (Purina). With its wide product range and global distribution, Nestlé touches the lives of billions of consumers daily.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest and most comprehensive manufacturers of health care products in the world. Founded in 1886 and headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson has over 250 subsidiary companies and sells products in over 60 countries. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson reported worldwide sales of $82.6 billion. The company regularly ranks among the world’s most valuable brands and profitable companies. With over 130,000 employees globally, Johnson & Johnson continues growing through new product innovation and strategic acquisitions while maintaining its foundational principles of quality, safety, and trust.
Founded in 1898, PepsiCo is an American multinational food, snack and beverage corporation headquartered in Purchase, New York. PepsiCo owns a number of major brands including Pepsi, Lays, Gatorade, Tropicana, Quaker Oats, Miranda, 7 Up, Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles, Aquafina and Mountain Dew. With annual revenues of over $63 billion, PepsiCo’s products are sold in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
The company operates its business through seven divisions: Frito Lay North America, Quaker Foods North America, North America Beverages, Latin America, Europe Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, Middle East and North Africa. PepsiCo is consistently ranked as one of the top revenue generating food and beverage companies in the world, and owns over 22 brands that each generate over $1 billion in estimated annual retail sales. Through product innovation and strategic acquisitions, PepsiCo aims to continue growing its share of the global food and beverage market.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is an American multinational consumer goods corporation founded in 1837 and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world with net sales exceeding $70 billion annually. P&G’s diversified portfolio of trusted brands spans several key consumer product categories including family, personal and home care.
The company has operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Procter & Gamble reported net sales of $76.1 billion for fiscal year 2020. Its products are sold primarily through mass merchandisers, e-commerce, grocery stores, membership club stores, drug stores, department stores, distributors, wholesalers, baby stores, specialty beauty stores, high-frequency stores and pharmacies.
Unilever is a British-Dutch consumer goods company founded in 1929 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Some of Unilever’s major brands include Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Hellmann’s, and Vaseline. In 2021, Unilever reported annual revenues of €52.4 billion. Unilever owns over 400 brands focused on hygiene, personal care, food, beverage, and household cleaning products. The company has operations in over 190 countries and sells its products to approximately 2.5 billion consumers globally. Unilever was formed in 1929 by the merger of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie.
Unilever owns popular food brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Lipton tea, Magnum ice cream, and Knorr soups, as well as personal care brands like Dove soap, Vaseline, and Axe. The company has a significant global reach and continues to acquire new brands while developing innovative products. Unilever aims to accelerate growth by focusing on emerging markets and premium segments.
Mars is a privately held American multinational manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products founded in 1911 and headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Mars owns several major brands including M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Uncle Ben’s Rice, and Pedigree Petfoods. As a private company, Mars does not disclose detailed financial information but is estimated to generate over $35 billion in annual revenue. Mars operates in over 80 countries and employs over 115,000 associates worldwide.
Mars’ portfolio of confectionery and food brands have made it one of the most successful private businesses, with global brand recognition and customer loyalty for over a century. The company continues to innovate and expand into new markets while remaining true to its origins as a family business.
Coca-Cola is an American multinational beverage corporation founded in 1892 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It is best known for its flagship product, Coca-Cola, which was invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton. Coca-Cola reported annual revenue of $38.7 billion in 2021, making it one of the largest beverage companies in the world.
The company has a diverse portfolio of over 500 brands and over 4,700 beverage products including sparkling soft drinks, juices, dairy, teas, coffees, energy drinks, sports drinks and water. Coca-Cola’s products are sold in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
Mondelez International is a U.S. multinational confectionery, food, and beverage conglomerate based in Illinois. It was founded in 2012 after Kraft Foods separated into two different entities. Mondelez International’s portfolio consists of several billion-dollar brands including Cadbury chocolate, Oreo cookies, belVita breakfast biscuits, Trident gum, and Ritz crackers. Some other major brands they own include Milka chocolate, Toblerone, Nabisco, LU biscuits, Triscuit, Tang powdered beverages, and Philadelphia cream cheese.
As of 2019, Mondelez International reported annual revenues of approximately $26 billion. With operations in over 80 countries and sales across 150+ markets, it is one of the largest snack companies in the world. Mondelez continues to expand its global footprint through acquisitions and reach new markets with its powerhouse brands.
The 10 companies listed are major players in the consumer packaged goods industry and represent some of the largest and most dominant brands worldwide. Through mergers, acquisitions and consolidation over the years, these corporations now own and produce many of the everyday household brands and products we buy. This level of market consolidation has major implications. With just a handful of mega-corporations controlling so many products, they hold immense power and influence over pricing, ingredients, manufacturing practices and more. Their size and reach enables them to benefit from economies of scale in production, raw material sourcing, marketing and distribution. However, it also stifles competition and consumer choice. The next time you reach for a household product, check the label. There’s a good chance it’s owned by one of these 10 consumer giants. But armed with that knowledge, you as a consumer have the power to influence change through your spending. Vote wisely.