10 Ethical Brands Owned by Big Corporations

When going green, an obvious first step for many is trying to buy more ethical products; from organic veg and natural soap, to shampoos and cleaning products which haven’t been tested on animals. That’s why one of the first blogs I wrote, when trying to live more sustainably, was all about Understanding Ethical Labels and how you can work out what’s green or not.

But more and more, small ethical brands, which use these labels, are being bought by big corporations who, – through other brands and products – may often be considered the antithesis of ethical. Primarily focused on profit and expansion; these large corporations often use unsustainable practices, produce genetically modified products, test on animals and generally seek to compete with smaller, family run companies. It seems that as big brands become less desirable than the natural, organic or ethical companies; they are investing in them to reap the benefits of the booming green industry. Big corporations are really beginning to have a monopoly on everything we buy…

Here are 10 examples of small ethical brands which are owned by big corporations:

  1. Seeds of change is owned by mars
  2. Body shop is owned by L’Oreal
  3. Naked drinks is owned by Pepsi
  4. Burts Bees is owned by Clorox
  5. Innocent Smoothies is owned by Coca Cola
  6. Green and Blacks is owned by Kraft
  7. Coppella is owned by pepsi
  8. Rachel’s organic is owned by Group Lactalis 
  9. Abel and Co is owned by Lloyds bank
  10. Dorset cereals is owned by Wellness foods

Some obvious conflicts in the above are L’Oreal – who test on animals – owning body shop, or natural brand Innocent Smoothies being bought out by giant brand Coca Cola. But more importantly, they are marketed as relatively small, grassroots companies who come with humble beliefs about a better planet. Do their investors feel, or act, the same? How does it make the consumer feel when they realise that by buying green products, they are in fact feeding the profits of the bigger brands they choose to avoid?

This Info-graphic shows just how much of what we buy is owned by a small number of large corporations:


However, whilst at first the above might seem a little disheartening, these bigger companies can actually give smaller brands stability; as they provide them the resources they need to continue and expand. In fact, the ethical brands report that since investment from larger corporations, their products, ethics and values have remained unchanged. Investment in money does not have to mean an investment of ethics.

So, though we would love to think that our favourite small brands could remain independent from large money grabbing corporations, wouldn’t we rather they continue to thrive and promote their sustainable aims; no matter what mean big man stumps up the cash?

What are your thoughts, I’d love to hear what you think!

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7 thoughts on “10 Ethical Brands Owned by Big Corporations”

  1. Sigh. I didn’t realize L’Oreal still tests on animals. Disgusting. I never buy anything from that company or the Body Shop (too much wasteful packaging, pthalates, I don’t wear makeup, etc.). We don’t actually need most of these consumer products, if any. Boycott the man!


    1. Actually, as of this year L’Oreal stopped testing on animals, and “An exception could only be made if regulatory authorities demanded it for safety or regulatory purposes”. But this is much newer progress than their purchase of body shop. Maybe the little mans ethics have inspired the big man?!

      Totally agree though, the solution is simple – buy less!


      1. Well that’s good news L’Oreal has stopped animal testing! If nothing else, it’s a smart business move. People won’t buy from bunny torturers. But I also think you’re right about the little man influencing the big man.


  2. I found out that China requires mandatory animal testing on cosmetics (it actually relaxed the rules on July 7th a little) so some companies “loosened” their position in order to sell to China. So they sold out, basically – profit over values. Not tested on animals outside of China, then same products tested on animals WITHIN China. Total hypocrisy.

    You can read this for more info http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/china-ends-animal-testing-rule-for-some-cosmetics/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1


  3. I found out recently that animal testing for cosmetics is actually compulsory in China (although rules were relaxed on July 7th a little) so some companies “loosened” their position in order to sell products to China. Profit before morals. And quite underhand…selling products as not tested on animals outside China, then shipping those same products to China and testing them on animals. Total hypocrisy. Not all companies are devious though.. some companies (like Lush) chose not to sell their products in China.


    1. That’s absolutely insane! it’s compulsory to test on animals? It’s good to know that Lush chose to stick by their beliefs and skip the China market, though I can see that a large majority of brands would choose profit over ethics. As we said before, best thing is to avoid consumer products anyway, we don’t need most of them but are lured in by pretty faces in adverts and claims of a transformation! haha

      Thanks for sharing 🙂


      1. I remember as a teenager I boycotted nestle because of the baby milk scandal. Then I found out Nestle owned L’Oreal, and L’Oreal owned Haagen-daaz ice cream, and my local hairdresser used L’Oreal…it was a bit of a wake up call to how much power these companies have. Back then I found it hard to avoid all these companies…but if you persist, it gets easier : )


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