Despite what rows and rows of different beer, cereal and ice cream brands suggest, shoppers actually have little choice when it comes to groceries.
The proliferation of grocery items specifically tailored to every taste is a bit of a deception. In reality, a 2013 study by the U.S. consumer rights group Food and Water Watch found that hundreds of the most popular food categories are controlled by just roughly half a dozen companies, according to budget living blog Finances Online.
Seemingly competing ice cream brands like Breyer's, Ben & Jerry's and Good Humor are actually all owned by one company, Unilever. The choices get even more scarce when it comes to sodas, where the top three companies -- Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group -- dominate 91 percent of the non-alcoholic beverage market.
Mega-brand mergers have also led to companies taking more unexpected brands into the fold. Many shoppers may know food giant ConAgra owns brands like Hunt's Manwich and Banquet frozen dinners, but what they might not know is that the ConAgra foodiverse now includes brands like the La Choy Asian food line, Healthy Choice frozen meals and Italian-style Bertoli pastas.
Even many of the non-food items at the supermarket have surprising parent companies behind them: earth-friendly lifestyle brands like Gud, Burt's Bees and Green Works all share the same owner -- Clorox.
Below, the infographic (courtesy of Finances Online) breaks down the eye-opening trend of shrinking choice at the supermarket: