Buffett Affirms Junk Food, Citing Lack of Smiles at Whole Foods

Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, tours the exhibition floor during the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 2, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the largest investor in Coca-Cola Co. and owns See’s Candies, affirmed his confidence in the market for sugary treats, even as the health costs of sweets become better known.

Buffett, 84, told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska, that happiness is important to longevity and that consumers enjoy Coke products.

“I don’t see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods,” he said, citing a grocery chain known for offerings such as almond butter and organic frozen blue curled kale.

Buffett last year helped finance a deal led by 3G Capital to combine Burger King Worldwide Inc. with Tim Hortons Inc., a coffee-and-doughnut chain. H.J. Heinz, which is owned by Berkshire and 3G, agreed this year to buy Kraft Foods Group Inc., the maker of Jell-O and Jet-Puffed marshmallows.

“I like the brands we’re buying,” Buffett said.

A representative for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market Inc. didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment outside of regular business hours.

Berkshire has 400 million shares of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, a stake valued at more than $16 billion based on Friday’s closing price. The soft-drink maker’s stock is little changed in the past 12 months while Whole Foods slipped 3 percent.

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