As the world gears up for the release of the highly anticipated movie The Hunger Games today, it's easy to forget the real-life hunger games playing out every day right here in the United States. What, you weren't aware of the gladiatorial style mortal combat our preteens are subjected to in hopes of winning food stuffs for their region of origin? Of course not, because it doesn't really exist no matter how many letters one sends to the Obama Administration. No, the hunger games that play out every day are being fought in the aisles of your grocery store by the major food companies fighting to win your food dollars.
Any investor, when considering a stock, will probably take a close look at the underlying market that the company relies on. Any sector or industry selling a product that the consumer simply cannot do without is most likely sitting pretty. Healthcare and Energy have risen to great heights because of this, and Utilities offer steady, low risk returns as well. However, Consumer Staples stocks, and specifically food, have one of the most stable sources of demand out there. Simply put: people HAVE to eat.
So, here are some of the biggest and most notable companies in the country that are in the business of putting food on your table, from agricultural conglomerates to food makers. These are the companies that play out their own "Hunger Games" every day.
*Editor's note: the idea for this article was actually taken from a very similar article on a Japanese financial website in 1999.
Market Cap: $67.63 billion
Kraft, under the careful stewardship of Chairwoman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld, is in the midst of spinning off its snack food division into a new company, which it intends to name Mondelez.
Market Cap: $16.94 billion
Heinz does a lot more than just make ketchup and partially fund failed presidential campaigns. The company's been headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA since its founding in 1890 by H.J. Heinz. The company also built a pickle factory in Holland, MI in 1897 that remains the largest in the world of its kind.
Campbell Soup Company (CPB)
Market Cap: $10.39 billion
Campbell Soup Company makes the ubiquitous soup brand that sick children and casserole making cooks everywhere have known for years.
Market Cap: $41.97 billion
The at-time controversial agricultural company is only indirectly a food company, but it's clearly in the same game by providing agricultural products to farmers around the country.
PepsiCo (PEP) and Coca-Cola (KO)
Market Cap: $102.75 billion and $161.68 billion, respectively.
It may speak to Americans' issues with health that the two largest companies on this list are makers of soft drinks and snacks, but Coca-Cola and Pepsi play a major role in providing Americans with the staggering amounts of calories we consume. While Coca-Cola sticks almost entirely to beverages, PepsiCo is a major player in the snack food industry through its subsidiary Frito Lay.
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