Monday, March 19, 2012

Annie's: An Organic AND Non-Organic Food Company

Annie's Homegrown, the maker of high-end macaroni and cheese, plus numerous other products, announced in December 2011 that it is going public. Its latest filing (part of the process) was on Friday, and a handful of small stories appeared in the media.

What got my attention was that in several instances the company was referred to as an organic food company, which is a little misleading. Here's the lead from the Wall Street Journal article:
"Organic mac-and-cheese powerhouse Annie’s Inc. is looking to price its IPO at $14 to $16 a share according to its latest filing this morning.

"The company is selling five million shares at the price, with an option for another 750,000, meaning at most the company is now going to raise $92 million. The stock will trade under the ticker BNNY on the New York Stock Exchange.


"The c
ompany, which makes organic food products but is best known for its bunny-adorned white-cheddar purple-boxed macaroni-and-cheese, had looked to raise up to $100 million when it first filed in December."
But as I've written about previously ("Not All Annie's Macaroni & Cheeses Are Created Equal"), Annie's sells both organic and non-organic food products and consumers must read the packaging carefully to know which they are buying.

Coincidentally, I bumped into a friend last week at Whole Foods. In her cart she had several box
es of Annie's natural mac & cheese, which have the words "made with organic pasta" prominently displayed, but is different from the company's organic mac & cheese. She did not realize—possibly because of marketing?—that Annie's sells non-organic products and that the natural mac & cheese contains non-organic cheese.

The bottom line is that consumers, even when dealing with high-minded companies such as Annie's, must read labels. Sure, Anni
e's Bunny Grahams and Cheddar Bunnies have some organic ingredients and are better than almost any other snack on the market, but they cannot be labeled as organic since less than 95 percent of the ingredients are organic. (See graphic on left for more info.)

The moral of the story? Read ingredient lists!

1 comment:

Oni said...

Not sure about all of their products but some that I've seen, the pasta they use just says "Organic Wheat Macaroni" and not "Whole Wheat".