Today, investors joined the Food Revolution as Annie’s Homegrown, a little mac and cheese company that makes cheddar bunnies, went public.
Having worked as a financial analyst on a team that included several dads, there was not a doubt in my mind that the IPO was going to be a success (as I discussed back in this December 2011 interview).
Little did I know by how much. Annie’s initially hoped to price their shares between $14 and $16, but as interest continued to grow, it became clear that investors were as hungry for change as consumers, and Annie’s raised their offering price and ended up pricing above the range at $19 per share and closing up 89% on its opening day.
As Annie’s made its way around Wall Street, it set a precedent in the food industry, not only because it was started by a mom who wanted a healthier version of mac and cheese for her kids but also as a public food company, full of values and void of junk, promising to do good and do well.
And as we are quickly learning, it can’t come a moment too soon. Because while other countries have chosen opt out of things like high fructose corn syrup, artificial growth hormones, artificial food dyes derived from petrochemicals and genetically engineered ingredients into their food supplies – particularly in the foods fed to children – they are still used in our products here.
The reason? Because mounting scientific evidence (not the industry-funded kind used for marketing purposes) shows that these ingredients might play a role in conditions like hyperactivity, cancer and allergies.
But even beyond the double standard, what is truly jaw-dropping is the fact that our American corporations formulate their products differently for eaters in other countries.
We are lucky to have Annie’s here in the United States, adhering to this level of food production that focuses on maximizing health and minimizing harm, because here is a look at just how different a box of mac and cheese can be:
U.K. Version of Mac & Cheese:
Macaroni (Durum Wheat Semolina), Cheese (10%), Whey Powder (from milk), Lactose, Salt, Emulsifying Salts (E339, E341), Colours (Paprika Extract, Beta-Carotene)
U.S. Version of Mac & Cheese:
Enriched Macaroni Product (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate (iron), thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B12), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (whey, modified food starch, whey protein concentrate, Cheddar Cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Granular Cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Cloride, Contains Less Than 2% of Parmesan Cheese (part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, dried buttermilk, sodium tripolyphosphate, blue cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Sodium Phosphate, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Cream, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Enzymes, Yellow 5, Yellow 6).
Source for Ingredients Lists: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, The Cheesiest Dinner (U.S. Version), Kraft Cheesy Pasta (U.K. Version)