For the most part we don’t pay a lot of attention to the fortunes of Heinz, ConAgra and Kraft Foods,
When I think of Heinz I mostly see ketchup and John Kerry’s wife in my rear view mirror. And sometimes I remember the ConAgra guy, who came into our store in about 2006. He actually spent a lot of time trying to get me to tell him how to make a gluten free burrito wrap.
Kraft stirs up images of that “food in a box” moment when everyone thought they could dump something dehydrated into a pan, add water and call it dinner.
The world keeps moving on, however., Last week these companies, along with
some other big name processed food players, were forced to write off many billions in market value. This hit Jello, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and hot dogs as well as Kool Aid. Even Warren Buffet got singed by the unexpected drop.
Big Food has been experiencing increased overhead costs related to distribution, as well as a customer drift toward healthier, fresher, more unprocessed foods. Belt tightening isn’t working, and the cost of driving those big trucks around the country has gone up since the late 1940’s, when the whole idea of factory food came into existence. Gas was about 10 cents a gallon then.
Now we’re realizing that driving around the country all day in huge trucks with jello and hot dogs and fake cheese and sugary ketchup may not be the best idea we’ve ever had. But now it’s “Our Food System.”
So, how do we get from here back to 1940? It’s a long way, but every one of us can help. We don’t have to wait for politicians. We actually vote, powerfully, every day, with our forks.
We have to relearn how to eat without depending on this outdated, silly idea. Food shouldn’t be made in factories. It should come from nearby, be eaten fresh and presided over by people who care about it a lot.
Heinz Kraft et al seems destined to go down in the big maelstrom that is climate change and fossil fuel dependency. No more jello. More next week.