The illusion of diversity: visualizing ownership in the soft drink industry

Three firms control 89% of US soft drink sales. This dominance is obscured from us by the appearance of numerous choices on retailer shelves. Steve Hannaford refers to this as “pseudovariety,” or the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice. To visualize the extent of pseudovariety in this industry we developed a cluster diagram to represent the number of soft drink brands and varieties found in the refrigerator cases of 94 Michigan retailers, along with their ownership and/or licensing connections. Continue reading The illusion of diversity: visualizing ownership in the soft drink industry

Concentration in the U.S. Beer Industry

Phil Howard and Ginger Ogilvie August, 2011 There is an appearance of great diversity in the number of brands and varieties of beer sold in the United States. The beer industry, however, is dominated by a relatively small number of firms. AB InBev owns, co-owns or distributes more than 36 brands, for example, while MillerCoors controls at least 24 more. MillerCoors also brews Metropoulos & … Continue reading Concentration in the U.S. Beer Industry

Concentration in the U.S. Wine Industry

No other section of the supermarket offers as many choices as the wine aisle. A typical retailer is likely to have hundreds of unique wines on its shelves. Just three firms, however, account for more than half of the wine sales in the United States. What impact does this industry concentration have on consumer choices? To answer this question we conducted an inventory of wine offerings at 20 retailers in Michigan. We recorded more than 3,600 unique varieties of wine, and traced their relationships with more than 1,000 different firms. Continue reading Concentration in the U.S. Wine Industry

Visualizing Fair Trade Coffee

The fair trade certification has entered a period of major change. The recent departure of Fair Trade USA from the international certification system led by Fair Trade International (formerly FLO), and its decision to develop separate US standards that permit certification of plantation-produced coffee, cocoa, and other crops, has thrown the meaning of the US fair trade label into question. Continue reading Visualizing Fair Trade Coffee