Innocent smoothies and drinks are some of my favourite things in the world. They’re tasty, nutritous, and were founded by a little British company with mostly ethical principles.
However, recently they announced that Coca-Cola had bought a small share in the company. The debate about this has been a big one on their blog and at their current AGM, taking place this week. People are angry at them appearing to sell out their principles. It’s understandable why people feel this way, and it’s also sadly understandable why they felt the need to take the Coke shilling. However, was it inevitable? There’s long been a sense that all smaller businesses will eventually be swallowed up by THE MAN (witness MySpace and Rupert Murdoch, Green and Black’s and Cadbury’s and thousands more), but is this still an inevitability? Someone on their blog posited the idea of selling the minority share to the public instead of Coke, although clearly that has a lot of complications and implications.
I don’t know the answers here. I feel disappointed but I don’t think I can demonise Innocent. I’m no squeaky clean anti-capitalist and drink Coca-Cola’s products sometimes so I can’t really complain too much, but I’m just wondering whether it is still inevitable for big business to eventually intervene in all smaller successful ones, or whether it really is possible for a company like Innocent to remain ethical as it grows.