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The Foods That Make Billions

Programme Run: 3 x 60 Minutes
Production: BBC
Series Producer: Dominic Crossley-Holland
First Transmitted: 2010

How did big business take basic foodstuffs like water, cereal and yoghurt out of our cupboards, repackage them and sell them back to us at a massive profit? This is the tale of how the major brands got us hooked on bottled water, got us listening to their version of what is "healthy" and are telling us what we want to buy.

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With exclusive access to some of the world’s largest food companies, this series tells the story of how big business feeds us. This is the inside story of how business turns three basic commodities into everyday necessities – cereals, yoghurt and bottled water.

How did big business take basic foodstuffs out of our cupboards, repackage them and sell them back to us at a massive profit? These simple staples have become some of the richest and most successful industries in the world.

This is the story of how vast fortunes are made and lost in the most cut-throat business of all. Hear the tale of how global brands such as Muller, Kelloggs and Evian entered our language and culture. See the inside stories of how big business transformed the market.

The companies exploit our growing concerns about our health and respond to our ever changing lifestyles. This revelatory business story goes beyond the boardroom to touch on health, culture, social change and marketing.


Why do we buy hundreds of billions of litres of bottled water each year when tap water is safer than it has ever been? This is the story of a lifestyle revolution, health fears and the privatisation of water. This film charts the story of how bottled water has become a symbol of our age and a triumph of modern business and capitalism.


Under the skin of the cereal box is the most sophisticated confection of invention, processing and advertising that modern business has ever seen. The humble bowl of cornflakes is the biggest success story of the modern food industry. It has transformed the way we eat and live. If you understand breakfast cereals you will understand the modern food industry.


Through yoghurt we can really explore our relationship with food and health. This film explains how functional foods were born and how our changing lifestyles and obsession with health shaped the changing food industry. This is the story of how health has become a new currency for the food business.

It tells the story of the battle between taste and health fought by giant food companies. The food firms are making bold health claims for their products, but the research does not always back up the adverts. Do those friendly bacteria really do what they say?


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