Italy-based pasta maker Barilla Holding was No. 1, Kraft was the only U.S. firm to make the top 10 and a handful of international food firms were among the top scorers in the Reputation Institute's annual ranking of corporate reputations.
Barilla, based in Parma, Italy, but with U.S. headquarters in Bannockburn, Ill., scored 87.79 out of a possible 100. Fellow Italian firm Ferrero, which makes chocolates and Nutella hazelnut spread, ranked eighth with a score of 82.98. The ranking was carried on www.forbes.com.
Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc., with a score of 81.82, made 10th place, the highest ranking for any U.S. firm. Pepsico scored a 78.85, good enough for 23rd. Other food companies in the top 50:
28. McCain Foods (Canada) 78.03 points
30. Grupo Bimbo (Mexico) 77.86
37. Grupo Leche Pascual SA (Spain) 77.06
46. Ebro Puleva SA (Spain) 76.60
The Reputation Institute, a New York consulting firm, has been ranking corporate reputations in conjunction with Harris Interactive since 1999. They only surveyed Americans, however, and only ranked the 60 companies that were most frequently named by respondents. This year, the two organizations parted ways.
For the late-2006 poll, the Reputation Institute surveyed 30,000 people around the world and ranked 600 of the largest companies worldwide. Companies were only judged on their home turf. Then the institute culled that list down to the 300 largest companies worldwide and asked consumers from each country to rank at least 10 firms.
The list contains a few surprises, according to Forbes. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, made the top 30 in the U.S., with a score of 67.25. It came in just behind Caterpillar, Mars, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The company with the worst reputation worldwide was Halliburton, with a score of 21.86. The defense contractor was one of only three companies, including Sweden's Skandia and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, to achieve a dubious feat: a reputation score below 30.