Who are the 50 most powerful people in the U.S. food world? Probably not who you think.
In the latest edition of The Daily Meal’s annual roundup, the list includes the head of Weight Watchers International (#27), the executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which operates the influential Seafood Watch program (#29), the CEO of Pinterest (#23) and the co-founder of Instagram (#24), two Google executives (together #8) and the general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (#6), whose members “transport food all over the country.” More familiar individuals like Michael Pollan (#34) and chef Thomas Keller (#37) and Mario Batali (#26, with business partner Joe Bastianich) were there too, but editor Colman Andrews noted that the list reflected how “CEOs are often more powerful than culinary celebrities.”
Seattle-area residents took two spots. Noted food-safety attorney Bill Marler was #47, credited as more than just a lawyer, but also “an advocate for a safer food supply.” (On his own blog, Marler noted that he had ranked #46 in 2012, but wasn’t on the list at all last year. Have things gotten worse in the food-borne illness world?) Costco CEO Craig Jelinek was #13 (just above New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells), with a nod to Costco “making quality name-brand products, food and drink prominently among them, accessible to a wide clientele through bulk purchasing.” Jelinek also got a hat-tip for being “poster boy for the efforts to increase the minimum wage, as Costco’s employees start out earning $11.50 an hour.”
On the top? USDA secretary Thomas Vilsack, followed by the CEO of Monsanto and the CEO of Wal-Mart.