50 Most Powerful People in 2014 Food World

50 Most Powerful People in 2014 Food World

March 24, 2014

Source: Colman Andrews

These men and women decide what and how you eat, whether you realize it or not.

The ability to make things happen, rewrite the rules, change the conversation and shift the paradigms; the people with power in the food world decide or influence what and how and where and why we eat.

Their power is economic, legislative, sometimes inspirational. They're the agribusiness moguls who decide what crops to plant and how to harvest, process, and sell them.

They're the heads of major food processing and distribution concerns and retail food outlets (that is, the people who actually put food on our tables).

They're the scolds and nannies — and admirable consumer advocates — who tell us what we should and shouldn't eat and why, sometimes upending whole industries in the process; the key figures in the governmental agencies concerned with the economics and the safety of our food supply; the media stars and public figures who sway our food opinions and stimulate our appetites; the chefs and restaurateurs who introduce us to flavors and culinary ideas, and establish and maintain standards for the preparation and presentation of food. They're the journalists, in whatever medium, who report on all of the above.

Any catalogue of powerful people — and certainly any ranking of them in order of perceived power— is bound to be highly subjective. That doesn't mean that it has to be arbitrary.

To come up with our list of The 50+ Most Powerful People in Food in America, our editors assembled an initial roster, based on research done gradually over many months, then added and subtracted, fine-tuned and developed.

We read news stories, annual statements, editorial analyses. We consulted with experts in the various fields we cover. We had endless discussions and occasionally strenuous debates.

Our ultimate criterion was simply this: Is each person on our list capable, whether by dint of corporate station, media access, moral authority, or sheer personality, of substantially changing, improving, and/or degrading the quality and variety of the American diet or the way we think about it?

Choosing which men and women in the American food world to include on our list was difficult enough; arranging them in order of power was a far greater challenge.

Here is the finalized list:

50. Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, Co-Founders, The Food Tank

49. Adam Rapoport, Editor in Chief, Bon Appetit

48. Matt Maloney, CEO, GrubHub Seamless

47. Bill Marler, Foodborne Illness Lawyer and Attorney

46. Steve Ells, Founder/ Co-CEO, Chairman, Chipotle Mexican Grill

45. Tom Colicchio, Chef-Restaurateur and TV Personality

44. Catherine Cassidy, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Taste of Home

43. Ingrid Newkirk, President and Co-Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

42. Mark Bittman, Journalist and Author

41. Tracey Ryder, President and CEO, Edible Communities Publications

40. Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief, Food & Wine

39. Alice Waters, Chef-Restaurateur and Founder and Director, The Edible Schoolyard Project

38. Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association

37. Thomas Keller, Chef-Restaurateur

36. Susan Ungaro, President, James Beard Foundation

35. Danny Meyer, Restaurateur

34. Michael Pollan, Author (just noteworthy)

33. Bill Shore, Founder and CEO, Share Our Strength

32. Dan Bane, Chairman and CEO, Trader Joe's

31. Bob Aiken, President and CEO, Feeding America

30. Steve Spinner, CEO, President, and Director, United Natural Foods, Inc.

29. Julie Packard, Executive Director and Vice-Chairman, Monterey Bay Aquarium

28. John Mackey, Founder and Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market

27. David Kirchhoff, CEO, Weight Watchers International

26. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, Chef/ Restaurateurs

25. David Murdock, CEO, Dole Food Company

24. Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder and CEO, Instagram

23. Ben Silbermann, Founder and CEO, Pinterest

22. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

21. Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO, The Kroger Co.

20. Fred DeLuca, Co-Founder and President, Subway

19. Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Food Network

18. José Andrés, Chef-Restaurateur

17. Pamela Bailey, President and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

16.  Paul Grimwood, CEO and Chairman, Nestlé USA

15. Donald Thompson, Vice Chairman and CEO, McDonalds

14. Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic, The New York Times

13. Craig Jelinek, CEO, Costco

12. Donnie Smith, President and CEO, Tyson Foods

11. William J. Delaney III, CEO, Sysco

10. David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO, Cargill

9. Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder and CEO, Yelp

8. Jack Menzel, Product Managing Director, and Dan Entin, Director of Digital Product Management, and their teams, Google

7. Patricia Woertz, Chairman, President, and CEO, Archer Daniels Midland

6. James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

5. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, Pepsi

4. Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Food, Federal Drug Administration

3. Doug McMillion, President and CEO, Walmart

2. Hugh Grant, Chairman, President, and CEO, The Monsanto Company

1. Thomas Vilsack, Secretary, USDA