We are all aware it’s a big year for Britain - perhaps the “biggest ever”, as Coca-Cola’s Nick Canney maintains. And some will begrudge Coke boarding the GB bandwagon in 2012.
But what is British? Some will point to manufacturing facilities - which will disqualify 10% of the 43 British owned brands in our list. So what about using home-grown ingredients? Well, Warburtons - born and bred, no pun intended, in Bolton - sources its wheat from North West… Canada. News look to the birthplace of a brand to identify its Britishness. But as reactions to Robert Wiseman’s recent sale to Müller proves - not to mention Kraft’s hostile takeover of iconically British Cadbury - the question of ownership matters hugely to this country’s sense of self-esteem. What it doesn’t appear to impact on is sales.
As well as Coca-Cola, 66 of Britain’s Biggest Grocery Brands belong to companies across the pond. Thirteen are French. Nine are German. Of the 91 born in the UK, only 36 are still owned by British corporations.
But should this come as a surprise? Just as the Olympics gives us a reason to back Team GB, it also reminds us we are no longer an island nation. London’s diversity was “a key reason it was chosen to host the Games” - and the Games themselves are fundamentally multinational. Of the 25 official supporters and partners of London 2012, only six are British companies. Most are large international corporations - but, as such, have a significant investment in British operations, and some even started out on British soil.
Although the buyout of a British brand can be bad news if it means jobs and investment and tax revenues move overseas, our grocery aisles, like our cities, would be boring without outside influence and expertise and investment. We shouldn’t lament the fact that so many of our Biggest Brands aren’t technically British in one way or another we should celebrate the fact that Britain is quite literally a melting pot.