According to the 2017 Forbes Global 2000 report, Nestle SA (NSRGY), PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) and the Coca Cola Co. (KO) are the top three food and drink companies in the world, as measured by a composite score of revenue, profit, assets and market value

Despite a shift away from the consumption of sugar and "unhealthy products" worldwide, traditional packaged food, soft drinks and tobacco companies ranked high among the most powerful firms globally. (See also: Major Trends Disrupting the Food Industry.)

Legacy Firms Retain Top Ranking

The top 25 companies in the food and beverage sector reportedly generated $741.2 billion in revenue and $86 billion in profit last year. Remaining at the helm of the food space, Nestle dropped one spot to No. 34 on the 2017 Global 2000 list, with $90 billion in revenue and $8.6 billion in profit for the trailing 12-month period ended April 7, 2017.

 

In response to rapidly changing consumer preferences, Nestle has led its food industry peers during a transformation period, as major industry players invest in startups and research and development (R&D) for more nutritional offerings. Last November, Nestle announced its “groundbreaking” initiative that will reportedly slash sugar in chocolate by 40% without sacrificing taste. (See also: Nestlé Says It Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Less Sugar.)

Rankings Revised

Health trends have also stood against the growth of soda makers led by Pepsi and Coke, but not enough to knock the global soft drinks giants from their positions at the top of their segment. Purchase, N.Y.-based snacks and beverage company PepsiCo saw its ranking lift six places to No. 84, while Coca-Cola slipped down three spots to No. 86.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP) experienced a notable jump on the Global 2000 list to No. 655 from No. 1280 due to its recent acquisition of SABMiller’s 58% stake in MillerCoors. The deal was related to SAB’s merger with AB InBev (BUD) and resulted in turning Molson Coors into the world’s third-largest brewer. (See also: The New Plan from Coca-Cola's New CEO.)

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.