During last week’s unseasonable bout of sunshine, a walk into your typical local supermarket for a quick glance around the shelves would have given you a little bit of insight into the state of the food economy. Barbeque favourites – from charcoal briquettes to cheese burgers – will have been piled high, however the relationship between the company you can invest in and the brand you see on the shelves is often a rather complicated one. You’re guaranteed blank looks if you walk into your high street bank and ask for shares in Mr Kipling or Hovis – in fact you’re probably guaranteed a vacant stare regardless – but here we take a look at the food brand you know and the business behind it.
So if you see Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference pork sausages flying off the shelves, it’s more than likely these were made by a company you’ve never heard of called Cranswick. They are known as a British supplier of premium fresh and added value food products, focused specifically on the chicken and pork markets, and are worth an impressive £1.5 billion*.
If there’s a throwback to the 1970’s for instant powdered deserts in various lurid colours (OK, so it’s unlikely, but bear with us) there’s a product called Angel Delight that still lurks in packets, often near the frozen sections of supermarkets. You’re not going to find shares in this company on sale, but instead you need to look to Premier Foods, the company behind such varied brands as Mr Kipling cakes and Lloyd Grossman pasta sauces.
If shoppers are inspired by their latest advertising campaigns, Magnum Ice Creams (apparently the world’s best-selling ice cream bar) might be looking like a winner but the company behind this – and other products as diverse as Surf washing powder or even Dove soap is the giant, FTSE-100 listed Unilever.
Barbeques and beers go together like a UK summer and intermittent showers so thirsty Brits will be reaching for the lager, but if you see the Stella Artois flying off the shelves, this isn’t the preserve of some quaint boutique brewery in Belgium. No, it’s now owned by the international drinks giant ABInBev which is admittedly still headquartered in Belgium, last year had sales of over $55 billion** and has now grown into a conglomerate that includes South Africa’s SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch (the creators of Budweiser).
If beer’s not your tipple then perhaps you’d prefer a Gordon’s Gin to sip on while you try not to burn the sausages. But again you’ll have to scratch around to find the company with the shares if you want to buy a slice. It’s Diageo, the world’s second largest distiller and the company that’s perhaps best known as the maker of Guinness.
Want something soft? A brand called Rubicon making various exotic fruit juices like Mango seems to have surged in popularity in recent years but if this is a hit this summer, it’s going to be the Scottish makers of Irn Bru, A.G. Barr, that you’ll want to be investing.
And depending how the afternoon of sunshine and partying has been going, you might well find that you’re reaching for either the Nurofen or the Durex. They’re both owned by Reckitt Benckiser, a household goods conglomerate that will perhaps always be best remembered for adverts featuring its overly enthusiastic brand ambassador “Barry Scott” as he showed off the virtues of the Cillit Bang cleaning product.
* – RNS no. 5951J issued by Cranswick, April 2018
** – ABInBev 2017 Annual report