Giving Compass’ Take:
• Virginia Gewin discusses how often times mission-driven food businesses struggle to maintain their original values in the name of shareholder demands.
• Business can be a wonderful tool for making change in the food system. How can we ensure integrity in the food system?
• Learn more about using a business model to promote a sustainable food system.
Larry Jacobs and his wife, Sandra, are looking to retire. They run Jacobs Farm, the largest supplier of organic herbs in the United States and Del Cabo, a cooperative that produces tomatoes with nearly 1,000 small organic farms in Baja California. Now in their 60s, the couple has been struggling to figure out how to ensure that the business they’ve poured heart and soul into for the last 33 years will continue to pay the farmers fairly and produce food organically once they’re gone. They can’t be assured that a new owner would stay true to the company’s mission.
“The fiduciary responsibility is to optimize profits, and that’s a dilemma,” says Jacobs.
As a generation of food-company founders retires, they don’t want to sell out. In recent years, a steady stream of small organic companies has been acquired by multinational conglomerates. Coca Cola bought Honest Tea for more than $43 million. Campbell’s Soup acquired Plum Organics for $250 million. Hormel Foods bought Applegate Farms for $775 million. When just 10 companies — including Nestlé, Unilever and General Mills — control the vast majority of food brands, it raises serious questions about the ability of mission-driven companies to hold on to their original intentions.
For that reason, Jacobs was one of 150 people packed into a barn in Portland, Oregon, in early November for the first annual stakeholder meeting of a groundbreaking new business structure. The model, adopted by Organically Grown Company (OGC), sets out to “separate profit from purpose.”
Read the full article about mission-driven food companies by Virginia Gewin at GreenBiz.
Learning Networks and Organizations is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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