The best organic orange juice company recently was acquired by big food giant Dean Foods (DF). Devastating news, once again another small company sold. Two years ago, I went to Clermont, FL and visited Uncle Matt’s peach U-pick site. There were so many delicious peaches right off the tree, but what I love the most was having the ability to ask questions about the growing process. I also enjoy the feeling of the community getting together, and that is very rare these days.
I have my insecurities about big food companies purchasing small farms. I am sure both parties will most likely roll up out a statement that quality and sustainability of Uncle Matt’s juices will be untouched and remain the same. I seem to have doubts that the company will run the same across all departments, but that is not up to me to decide. Consumers will be the judge on that about 2 to 5 years in and determine whether the quality control has changed or not. The unfortunate part is my pride of this local juice company producing organic orange juice will likely die. Working in the supermarket industry for so long, I have always felt that suggesting good food to consumers has always been a duty of mine. In times like this, it can be somewhat sad to know that a brand that I have suggested for so long made in my backyard has sold itself off to the inefficient food industry.
Year after year, conventionally produced food items are losing more profits to sustainable food items. Consumers are demanding transparency and small sustainable companies are providing the public with just that. As a result, significant publicly traded food brands are seeking and purchasing organic companies to add to their portfolios to hopefully raise their stock prices. Which is a wise decision for the many shareholders that each company holds, but where does sustainability maintain its place among companies that are so greedy for the next dollar. I hope this trend of small companies brings brought by big food will stop soon, but I have a feeling this will continue for a substantial amount of time. Now to be clear I am not saying don’t purchase Uncle Matt’s juice, but be wise as to whom you are supporting and always find out how your purchases will impact your community. Local companies are the backbone of your local economy. Most often when a big company purchases a local company, operations could change either for good or bad. In my opinion, most of the time it is not good, and the local area could end up in a hopeless situation trying to find something else that will sustain the local economy. Thank goodness, times have changed, and Florida is not what it use to be relying on the citrus business to survive. What I do know for sure “we” as consumers have to keep our eye on what’s happening in food business daily and always buy local whenever possible. It is still the local businesses that are willing to give back to the community first.