“We look at our business and say, ‘How can we remake ourselves?’ ” said Richard Smucker, CEO of his family’s namesake jelly giant SJM 0.06% . A second exec—this one at ConAgra CAG 0.37% , which owns 29 food brands that bring in $100 million in annual retail sales apiece—bemoaned to Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow that “big” had become “bad.” A third conveyed what her industry feared would be the largest casualty of the public’s “mounting distrust of Big Food”—that shoppers would turn away from them for good. “We understand that increasing numbers of consumers are seeking authentic, genuine food experiences,” said Campbell Soup Co. CPB 0.11% CEO Denise Morrison, “and we know that they are skeptical of the ability of large, long-established food companies to deliver them.”
And here’s one number to capture that skepticism: An analysis by Moskow found that the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share since 2009. “I would think of them like melting icebergs,” he says. “Every year they become a little less relevant.”
If more of us are skipping processed foods for the produce and meat aisles what happens to the entire industry?
Can you imagine the meetings going on inside these corporations right now? There must be some genuine panic, but if it results in more good whole food options coming our way then it’s all worth it.