We've started to build a Food Companies list this week and you can see the beginnings here. This is a bit of a reverse order of things for us, normally we go and do much more research and gather significantly more detail before we post a new list as much of the strength of our traditional lists is based on the downloadable detail. However, sometimes you need to be entrepreneurial and just get some momentum. In some ways this list as it is is quite useful ... but it is very incomplete. I am sure there are several major firms that are missing, not to mention myriad smaller entreprises that would comfortably belong here. I also reaslise that it is a very subjective topic. What is a food company? It is one that grows things or is it further down the chain with its own branded, value-added products? Does a firm which simply rebadges basic food ideas as its own actually count? In my view we are looking for any business that sells processed food under its own brand - so not growers or livestock producers going to market, or greengrocers or butchers retailing the end results.
Milne, for example, is an agribusiness that goes several steps through the value chain with its branded meat products that are significantly processed and sold to the public under brands such as Mt Barker Chicken.
The challenge is the overlap. We also need to build a list of agribusinesses which often have branded product but just for recognition at wholesale level and then we have merchants and retailers who specialise in food but don't actually produce anything themselves. We may even change the name of the list to Food Producers or Branded Food Producers ... but that might just be getting too technical at this stage. I know official statistical collections will have specialist terms but we like to keep our lists broad and flexible.
Check out our formative list and please feel free to make any suggestions for this list or other lists that we are considering, or should be.