The 10 Food and Beverage Companies Making the Most Money

Will Kreznick

Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com 2020 was a brutal year for restaurants and bars, but it wasn’t all bad for the food and beverages category — though it did make for a decline in revenue. According to Research and Market’s recent report Food and Beverages Global Market Report 2020-30: COVID- 19 […]

Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com

2020 was a brutal year for restaurants and bars, but it wasn’t all bad for the food and beverages category — though it did make for a decline in revenue. According to Research and Market’s recent report Food and Beverages Global Market Report 2020-30: COVID- 19 Impact and Recovery, the sector was expected to decline 2.9% — from $3,606.1 billion in 2019 to $3,503.3 billion in 2020, making for a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The dip in sales is largely owed to the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

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But there’s hope on the horizon. The report also found that the market is on track for a comeback, with experts expecting the sector to grow to $4,290 billion in 2021 — a CAGR boost of 8% from this year. Food Engineering magazine noted that currency fluctuations and shifts in consumer demand, along with new mergers and acquisitions, were powerful influences in 2020, and contributed to the success of some brands — and the slumps of others. The magazine also noted product innovation and increases in cooking from home amid the pandemic as influences on the overall market.

To see who has been making the most money, here’s a look at the top 10 performing food and beverage brands of 2020, as ranked by Food Engineering.

Last updated: May 27, 2021

LONDON, UK - SEPTEMBER 26, 2018: Activia yogurt with blueberries by Danone with berries.

LONDON, UK – SEPTEMBER 26, 2018: Activia yogurt with blueberries by Danone with berries.

10. Danone

Ever wondered how yogurt became a thing? It all started in the early 1900s, when Isaac Carasso, inspired by the work of Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff, a researcher at the French Pasteur Institute, experimented with adding lactic ferments. The resulting invention, yogurt, took off in 1919 once Carasso began selling it to pharmacies, emphasizing its health benefits. He named his brand Danone after his son, Daniel Carasso, who was heavily involved in its creation. The company has become a global powerhouse, with brands like Silk and Evian in its vast portfolio.

Read: 25 Biggest Companies You’ve Never Heard Of

Cargill

Cargill

9. Cargill

The name may not be as well known as others on this list, but Cargill is a mega player across a variety of markets, including chocolate, refined oil, salt and sugar. Founded by William Cargill more than 150 years ago, Cargill now has dozens of business divisions across nearly 70 countries. Cargill is also a major player in agriculture, carbon solutions, pharmaceuticals, beauty and more.

See: Big-Name Brands That Have Been Around for More Than a Century

Grain Silos.

Grain Silos.

8. Archer Daniels Midland Company

With roots stretching back to 1902, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADMC) has been on an acquisition spree for the last few decades. Most recently, according to its site, ADM scooped up Neovia, a brand that focuses on animal feed, for €1.544 billion (which currently converts to about $1.9 billion). ADM has 450 crop procurement locations, more than 300 food and feed ingredient manufacturing plants and more than 60 innovation centers around the world.

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Coca-Cola Coke neon sign atop a building

Coca-Cola Coke neon sign atop a building

7. The Coca-Cola Company

Few consumers on this planet aren’t familiar with The Coca-Cola Company, the brand that perhaps most famously brought us Coke, Diet Coke and a ton of other types of Cokes. The carbonated beverage maker with its infamously secret recipe is also the corporation behind a flock of other brands including fellow soda faves Sprite and Fanta, along with Shweppes and Barg’s. And that’s just to name a few — the company is also a powerful player in foods, waters, coffee and teas. In all, Coca-Cola has 200 brands worldwide.

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Mars candy bars

Mars candy bars

6. Mars

It all started with two dudes in a kitchen making sweet treats. More than a century later, Mars is a notable titan not only in the confectionary aisle (with brands like Twix, Skittles and Snickers), but in the realm of pet foods (think Whiskas and Pedigree). The company has more than 130,000 associates in 80 countries. Mars also has a stake in the consumer packaged goods space, most famously with its Ben’s Original line, formerly known as Uncle Ben’s — which has been lambasted for its racist associations.

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Emporia, Kansas, USA, October 12, 2013 Tyson's meat processing plant - Image.

Emporia, Kansas, USA, October 12, 2013 Tyson’s meat processing plant – Image.

5. Tyson Foods

What better time to launch a business than during the Great Depression? That possibly (though likely was not) the thinking of John W. Tyson, who in 1931 built the foundation of his glorious future by delivering chickens from Springdale, Arkansas, to larger markets located in the Midwest. Today, the company has a slew of meaty brands in addition to its own, including Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm. Tyson has 19 test kitchens and a 39,000-square-foot pilot plant.

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Closeup side view of unrecognizable woman chossing some fresh meat at local supermarket.

Closeup side view of unrecognizable woman chossing some fresh meat at local supermarket.

4. JBS

It was a great year in revenue for JBS, but it wasn’t so lovely a time over on the processing side of things. The Brazilian meat giant saw more than 200 of its employees sickened by COVID-19 after an outbreak in one of its Colorado processing plants, causing at least six deaths. This past March, JBS SA was court-ordered to pay $3.62 million in damages for lack of adequate health protocols in São Miguel do Guaporé. JBS has 109 facilities in six countries.

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IRVINE, CA - MAY 27, 2014: Two bottles of Budweiser on a bed of ice.

IRVINE, CA – MAY 27, 2014: Two bottles of Budweiser on a bed of ice.

3. Anheuser-Busch

In the 1870s, beer mammoth Anheuser-Busch became the first brewery to implement pasteurization, enabling beer to be transported long distances without going bad. The brand touts a bevy of hoppy brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois. Through July 4, Anheuser-Busch has brought back its limited-edition beer cans that feature a pastoral corn motif, simultaneously launching a campaign to financially help out Kansas farmers. The company has 12 breweries in the U.S. and more than a dozen in international locales.

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Louisville - Circa July 2019: Pepsi Beverages Company Signage.

Louisville – Circa July 2019: Pepsi Beverages Company Signage.

2. PepsiCo

Headquartered in Purchase, New York, PepsiCo was born in 1898, created by Caleb D. Bradham, a pharmacist. In 1965, when the Pepsi-Cola Company merged with Frito-Lay, Inc., it became PepsiCo. PepsiCo is among the largest companies in the world, with its products retailing in more than 200 countries. Aside from its eponymous product, Pepsi, PepsiCo is the tycoon behind troves of brands including Gatorade, Tropicana and Quaker Oats, to name but a few.

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Nestle

Nestle

1. Nestlé

This is the second year in a row that Nestlé has taken first place on Food Engineering’s top performing food and beverage companies — beating its runner up by nearly $10 billion. The history of Nestlé dates back to 1866, with the founding of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company by Henri Nestlé. In the many decades since, Nestlé has made a ton of acquisitions and launched dozens of brands. Some familiar names include Cheerios, Dreyer’s, Gerber and Lean Cuisine.

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