Consolidation in the North American Organic Food Processing Sector, 1997 to 2007



Published Jan 15, 2009
Philip H. Howard


Significant structural changes have accompanied the phase-in of a national organic standard in the United States over the last decade. The organic processing sector was particularly amenable to change due to its location downstream from production, where concentrations of capital encounter fewer biological barriers, and currently benefit from greater economies of scale. Consolidation of this emerging industry in the US and neighboring Canada is characterized visually using information graphics. These graphics provide a broad overview of the current industry structure by depicting the processes of horizontal integration and concentric diversification. Horizontal integration has occurred through acquisitions and strategic alliances, although these transactions are often hidden from consumers through ‘stealth’ ownership. Concentric diversification has occurred through the introduction of organic versions of mainstream brands, and the introduction of private label organics. These trends are expected to continue, and strongly support the conventionalization thesis as it applies to off-farm segments of the organic food industry.

How to Cite

H. Howard, .P. 2009. Consolidation in the North American Organic Food Processing Sector, 1997 to 2007 . The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 16, 1 (Jan. 2009), 13-30. DOI:
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