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Organic Consumers Association

Coca-Cola Now Owns Zico Coconut Water, Honest Tea, Odwalla, and Vitamin Water: The Dark Side of Coke's "Healthy" Brands

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

On November 22, Coca-Cola completed its acquisition of Zico Coconut Water. The company now owns a string of beverage brands marketed to people who like natural foods, including not just Zico but also Honest Tea, Odwalla, Simply Orange, and Vitamin Water.

In the last few years, sales of natural and organic foods have become big business. Annual revenues have nearly tripled since 2001, and they now exceed $91 billion. Healthy food isn't just for hippies any more, and corporate America wants in on the action.

While sales of Coca-Cola's soft drinks have been slumping, company profits were up in the third quarter of 2013, thanks to strong and growing sales from Coca-Cola's non-soda and healthier beverage offerings.

But not everything is cheery in organic-land. Some natural food lovers are uncomfortable with the fact that most of their treasured brands have been bought by corporate behemoths. Clorox bought Burt's Bees. General Mills claimed Cascadian Farms and Muir Glenn. Even Kellogg's got into the natural foods buy-up bonanza by purchasing popular brands like Kashi and Gardenburger. In fact, 80 percent of organic brands are now reportedly owned by mega corporations.

This means that natural foods consumers might be unknowingly contributing to the profits of, and supporting the policies and practices of, parent companies like Coca-Cola with whom they have profound disagreement.

For example, the vast majority of natural foods consumers want Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. GMO labeling is already mandatory in 64 nations including the entire European Union, and recent polls find it supported by 93 percent of the American public. But profits from the sale of Coca-Cola's healthier brands have been used by Coca-Cola to fight labeling efforts. It stands to reason that the company doesn't want the public to know that its soda pop is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup made from genetically engineered corn.  


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