NEW YORK: General Mills, Kraft and Johnson & Johnson are the brand owners held in the highest regard among US shoppers, research has shown.

The Reputation Institute, the consultancy, polled 10,198 people about their perceptions of 150 major American corporations. Respondents rated players with which they were "somewhat" or "very" familiar.

General Mills, the food group, posted 83.03 points out of a possible 100, up 5.6 points year on year. This increase was was aided by social schemes such as Eat Better America and some shrewd purchases, like natural snacks firm Food Should Taste Good, the study said.

"We believe consumers reward companies that operate with integrity and stay focused on doing what is right over the long-term," explained Ken Powell, chairman/CEO of General Mills.

"For us, building this trust includes delivering nutrition and value to consumers through innovation, strong community engagement, a commitment to protecting the environment, as well as developing strong leaders to grow our business around the world," he added.

Kraft, another food specialist, was second on 80.05 points, and has been in the top ten since 2006. It is currently dividing into two entities: a global wing called Mondelez International and a North American grocery unit keeping the Kraft name.

"Our goal simply is to be North America's favorite food company," W Anthony Vernon, president of Kraft Foods North America, said in February. "I want the North American grocery company to have the spirit of a start-up and the soul of a powerhouse."

Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare expert, claimed third on 79.98 points, ahead of Kellogg's, also from the packaged food sector, with 79.05 points, and Amazon, the ecommerce site, on 78.64 points.

UPS, the delivery services provider, climbed the rankings to 78.43 points, beating Coca-Cola, the drinks manufacturer, on 78.11 points, and Apple, the electronics pioneer, with 77.74 points.

Anthony Johndrow, managing partner at the Reputation Institute, said: "This year, with the death of Steve Jobs, more attention was brought to Apple as a company. Consumers were exposed, many for the first time, to the governance behind the organisation rather than just the newest product coming out on shelves."

Completing the top ten were PepsiCo, the food and beverage conglomerate, on 77.63 points, and Procter & Gamble, the FMCG group, with 77.28 points.

Financial services and energy companies dominated the list of the worst-performing firms, led by Freddie Mac on 26.01 points, Fannie Mae on 29.52 points, Goldman Sachs on 36.95 points and Halliburton on 37.62 points.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff