It's no secret, thanks to an obesity epidemic in the western world, that people like sugar. Perhaps too much. It should be no surprise, then, that according to the most recent list of Forbes Global 2000, a ranking of public companies worldwide, the three largest food companies in the world all peddle sugar.
The list Based on “a composite score of revenue, profit, assets and market value,” put candy maker Nestle at #34, PepsiCo at #84 and Coca-Cola not far behind at #86. Further down in the 100’s you’ll find Unilever, Kraft Heinz, and AB InBev. The striking similarity between the top three, however, is that their main portfolio of products are those containing sugar or high fructose corn syrup, substances which have become more and more eschewed by a health conscious public.
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But despite our growing trend away from sugar, given the popularity of soda and the collective sweet tooth for chocolate globally, it makes sense that these three corporations would come out ahead of the other producers in the food space. But that appetite for the sweet stuff also calls into question whether this is a "chicken or the egg" scenario. While it's easy to blame the consumer for purchasing high sugar foods, the ubiquity of these choices in nearly every retail setting imaginable also plays a factor. In an ideal world, nutritionally speaking, the top food company would be something like The Kale Corporation but that’s not the reality.
Whether or not they're to blame, Nestle, Coke and Pepsi gave all made attempts to curb just how much of their sales come from sugar. Both beverage companies have been investing in so-called smart waters, juices and other less caloric options. Pepsi recently bought a kombucha company, and Coke has owned Zico coconut water for years now and recently bought up a soy-based beverage maker. Nestle even went so far as to innovate a healthier sweetener that could end up in a lower sugar cocoa that claims to taste as good as the original.
You can see all of the companies that made Forbes Global 2000 list here.