Global food production is controlled by a number of multinational companies, both in the agricultural sector and in the food industry. These companies are playing an increasingly important role in the food supply chain, from seed production to distribution and consumption.
The agricultural sector
In the agricultural sector, the companies that control seed production play the most important role. These companies produce seeds for staple crops such as wheat, rice, corn and soybeans, as well as more specialized crops such as genetically modified soybeans and cotton. Their control over the seed market gives them great influence over global agricultural production.
The four companies that control more than 50% of the world seed market are:
- Bayer (Germany)
- Corteva (United States)
- ChemChina (China)
- Limagrain (France)
These companies have grown through mergers and acquisitions, which have increased their market concentration. For example, the merger of Bayer and Monsanto in 2018 created the world’s largest seed company.
The control of seeds by these multinational companies has a number of implications. First, these companies can charge higher prices for seeds, which can increase production costs for farmers. Second, these companies may have greater control over the research and development of new seeds, which may limit innovation. Third, these companies may have greater control over food production, which may lead to a reduction in crop diversity.
The food industry sector
In the food industry, companies that control the production of processed foods also play an important role. These companies produce a wide range of foods, from soft drinks and candy to dairy products and processed meats.
The ten companies with the highest sales in the food industry are:
- Nestle (Switzerland)
- PepsiCo (United States)
- Unilever (Netherlands/UK)
- Coca-Cola (United States)
- Mars (United States)
- Mondelez (United States)
- Danone (France)
- General Mills (United States)
- Kellogg’s (United States)
These companies control a large portion of the global processed food market. Through their control over the production and distribution of processed foods, they have a major influence on people’s eating habits.
The control of processed foods by these multinational companies has a number of implications. First, these companies can use their market power to set higher prices, which can result in higher food costs for consumers. Second, these companies can use their market power to influence people’s eating habits, which can lead to less healthy diets. Third, these companies can use their market power to reduce competition, which can limit innovation in the food sector.
Effects of concentration of global food production
The concentration of global food production brings with it a number of challenges, such as concentration of economic power, dependence on imports and vulnerability to external shocks.
concentration of economic power
The concentration of global food production in a few multinational companies increases the concentration of economic power. These companies have great power over seed and processed food markets, allowing them to set prices, control supply and demand, and influence people’s eating habits.
The concentration of global food production also increases dependence on imports. Multinational companies that control the production of seeds and processed foods are mostly based in developed countries. This means that developing countries rely on importing seeds and processed foods from these companies.
Vulnerability to external shocks
The concentration of global food production also increases vulnerability to external shocks. For example, an economic crisis or natural disaster can have a significant impact on multinational companies that control the production of seeds and processed foods. This can have a negative impact on people’s food security, especially in poorer countries.
The concentration of global food production is a complex phenomenon with a range of implications. It’s important to keep these challenges in mind so you can take steps to address them.