General Mills Acquires Annie’s Homegrown Foods, Bunny Mascots

Annie’s is a 25-year-old company based in Berkeley, California that has its organic products everywhere from the shelves of health food stores to the checkout of Target. General Mills is 158-year-old company based in the Minneapolis area that owns familiar American brands like Cheerios cereal and Green Giant frozen vegetables. These companies are getting hitched, thanks to their shared love of the growing organic food market and money.

General Mills owns quite a few organic food brands already. They don’t make the ownership super-obvious on these products’ packaging because they’re not stupid, but Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and Larabar are familiar brands to health-food shoppers. Now the conglomerate can add Annie’s to its portfolio, and paid about 33% over the current share price of the publicly-traded Annie’s (stock ticker symbol: BNNY)

The acquisition adds more than $200 million in annual sales to an organic foods division that already takes in $330 million per year. Though all of those customers may not make the transition to General Mills. While the company says that it has no opposition to a unified nationwide GMO-free label, it opposes requiring companies to label products that do contain genetically modified ingredients, and also opposes state initiatives that could lead to a labeling headache for a large company that does business nationwide.

As anyone who has ever discussed food on the Internet knows, the potential presence of genetically modified organisms in their food (or in their food’s food, in the case of meat, dairy, and eggs) is a very important issue to a vocal minority of consumers, who are storming the Annie’s Facebook page as we speak.

The company is responding to all messages, which is nice. Here’s a sample reply to a person concerned about GMOs?

Hi all – We totally understand your concerns. There is no change in our stance on GMOs. We are committed to transparency around the topic of GMOs. Millions of consumers agree with Annie’s position around GMOs. We know that General Mills understands our commitment and the importance of our position on this issue to the authenticity of our brand. Hope you’ll stay a fan.

General Mills will pay $820M for Annie’s Homegrown organic foods [Twin Cities Business News]
General Mills Adds Organic Foods With Purchase of Annie’s [Bloomberg News]