Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the brands of thousands of the world’s biggest companies. The world’s 50 most valuable food brands are included in the Brand Finance Food 50.
Combining the values of these brands based on ownership reveals the brand portfolio values of the FMCG corporate giants. Unilever’s total portfolio value is US $42.9 billion, more than double that of KraftHeinz, which recently attempted a takeover of the Anglo-Dutch company.
Unilever is a major UK employer, well-known for its business ethics and focus on sustainability. Dozens of its brands, such as Marmite, Colmans and PG Tips, have achieved ‘national treasure’ status in the UK and beyond. So when KraftHeinz (whose brand portfolio is worth just US $20.2bn) launched its bid, there was widespread surprise and trepidation. Eyebrows were raised in UK Government circles and the upper echelons of business too, as the bid appeared to confirm the vulnerability of British firms to takeover by foreign counterparts following the Brexit vote.
In the event, Unilever’s CEO Paul Pohlman rebuffed the US $143 billion deal, which was seen to significantly undervalue the company. Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh comments, “Unilever has one of the world’s most valuable brand portfolios, more than double the value of KraftHeinz. Quantifying this and bringing it to the fore will be key to defending any future bids or ensuring that shareholders receive fair value.”
In general, the last year has proved challenging for food brands. Brands with significant confectionary lines have had the most difficulty as concerns around health eat into revenues. Kraft, Hershey’s, Mars and Nestle have lost 4 per cent, 10 per cent, 14 per cent and 17 per cent of their brand value this year respectively. This trend is global, with Chinese snack food manufacturers Want Want and Master Kong dropping significantly too. Kellogg’s brand value has dropped 3 per cent. Demand for cereal is faltering as consumers explore a wider variety of breakfast options.
The dairy segment is holding up a little better than the food sector as a whole. This year’s fastest growing food brand is Australia’s largest dairy brand, Devondale. Its brand value is up 35 per cent year-on-year to US $1.5 billion. Devondale’s growth is the result of changing consumer tastes and growing demand in South East Asia. Asia’s growing taste for dairy bodes well for Yili. It is barely known in the West, but thanks to marketing initiatives such as sponsorship of China’s Olympic team, it scores very highly on brand equity measures such as Consideration, Familiarity and Recommendation in China, its domestic market. Yili is now the world’s second most valuable (and the strongest) dairy brand.