Organics Chosen for Health Reasons
Family health and nutrition concerns are increasingly influencing household food purchases in the U.S., according to a new report from the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention magazine, Shopping for Health 2005: Meeting the Needs of Family Health and Wellness. The annual study also shows that shoppers are buying more organic products, citing reasons including better nutritional value, higher level of freshness, more benefits to health and better taste.
The FMI/Prevention report also showed that organic product shoppers are more likely to make their purchases at a supermarket (48%), followed by organic/natural food stores (18%), supercenters (15%) and farmer’s markets (8%). Of those shoppers that regularly buy organic foods, most indicated that the availability of health and nutrition information is very important and that they will go out of their way to shop at stores that teach them about healthful eating.
Ag Bills Give $5 Million for Organic Research Program
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to its 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill in May, increasing funds for the USDA Organic Transitions research program from $1.8 million to $5 million for the next fiscal year. Offered by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), the amendment passed on the House floor by a resounding voice vote.
The Organic Transitions program provides competitive grant funding to research, education and extension projects that help farmers address the challenges of modern organic production and marketing. “We must take steps to help this industry improve and allow these competitive grants to assist in the process,” said Rep. Leach, a Republican from Iowa’s 2nd district.
With the House working to cut nearly $100 million from 2006 spending levels for agriculture programs, the increase for organic research was particularly significant. “It should come as no surprise that the demand for organic, pesticide-free foods has skyrocketed in recent years,” said Holt, a New Jersey Democrat. “This amendment is good for farmers and good for consumers,” he added.
“The broad support for the amendment was likely a result of so many members of Congress hearing directly from constituents about the importance of this program,” added Brise Tencer, legislative coordinator for the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Many members of OFRF’s Organic Farmers Action Network, along with colleagues in the rapidly growing organic industry, who contacted their representatives to urge them to support the amendment.
The Senate will now develop its own version of the 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The two chambers will then reconcile differing provisions of the legislation in a conference committee. If the Senate includes the same $5 million for the Organic Transitions program in its version, the change is very likely to be included in the final bill forwarded to President Bush later this year for his signature.
OTA Report Shows Organic Still Growing
Sales of organic foods in the U.S. continue to increase, with the meat category demonstrating the highest growth rate last year, according to preliminary results from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2006 Manufacturer Survey. Unveiled at the All Things Organic (ATO) trade show in Chicago in May, the newest figures reveal that the organic category currently represents around 2.5% of all retail sales of food.
The overall food organic market has grown 28% since 2003 to reach a total value of $14 billion in 2005, and is expected to reach $16 billion by the end of 2006.
Although currently the smallest organic category, meat, fish and poultry experienced the highest growth last year, increasing by around 55% to reach $256 million. According to consumer trend analyst Harvey Hartman, this is largely due to consumers opting for organic meat and dairy products in an effort to avoid hormones and antibiotics.
Produce remains in the top spot at $5 billion, with an 11% growth rate, followed by dairy ($2 billion) and non-dairy beverages ($2 billion), the latter increasing 13% since last year. Packaged and prepared foods have shot up 19% to $1.8 billion, while breads and grains currently stand at $1.4 billion.
The Organic Center Launches
Mission Organic 2010
In keeping with its mission to create a greater awareness and demand for organic products, The Organic Center announced the launch of an aggressive national consumer education and outreach campaign called “Mission Organic 2010,” at New Hope Natural Media’s 2006 Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim.
The goal of Mission Organic 2010 is to help consumers understand the benefits of an organic diet, thereby increasing organic food consumption to 10% of the U.S. food supply by the year 2010. Currently organic food consumption is at 2%. The Center plans to increase consumer participation through a national multimedia awareness campaign about the benefits of eating organic based on its own funded research and State of Science Reviews that provide a consumer-friendly snapshot of studies on specific topics related to the benefits of organic food.
“Mission Organic 2010 is our next step in getting the science behind organic foods out to the consumer who may not realize all the benefits of organic,” says R. Mark Davis, CEO of The Organic Center. “The campaign will be relevant and informative so all people can benefit from the research we have on organic foods.”
“The natural products industry has done an amazing job of elevating the awareness of organic food to where it is now,” says Davis. “We want to help push the awareness to that next level and enlighten more Americans to the advantages of an organic lifestyle.”
Over the next several months The Organic Center will launch an interactive Mission Organic 2010 website where consumers can learn about the science behind and benefits of organic foods.
Proposed Rule Offers Resolutions to Harvey Case
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offered a proposed rule in April to address the final court order concerning the Harvey v. Johanns case and congressional amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act.
The proposed rule revises the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to clarify that non-organically produced products must be listed in Section 205.606 and may be used in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with” organic ingredients only when organic products are not commercially available.
Also, under the proposed rule, transitioning dairy producers would no longer be able to use 20% non-organic feed during the first nine months of whole herd conversion to organic production. It further addresses dairy herd conversion by allowing crops and forage from land in its third year of organic management to be fed to animals under conversion (ams.usda.gov/nop/Todaysnews.html).
EU Countries Fight New Label
European Union (EU) agriculture ministers were divided over plans this May to set up new EU-wide labeling of organic and bio-produced foods. Officials said several countries argued that a European-wide logo to identify products classified as organic would confuse consumers already familiar with the labeling used in their own countries.
Most EU nations already have their own labeling to identify organic products grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and without being genetically altered.
Germany’s deputy agriculture minister, Gert Lindemann, said the plan posed too many problems.
Several nations, including Belgium, Austria, Italy and Greece, demanded that any new rules on what constitutes organic should ensure that biotech content of the product be near zero, and not the proposed 0.9% limit, which EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel argued was needed to account for accidental contamination.
Fischer Boel said that forcing the limit lower would cost farmers too much and would harm sales of organic goods. EU officials said they hope to get a deal on the new labels by the end of the year.
Under the current proposal, at least 95% of the final product has to be organic for it to get the “EU-Organic” label. Products imported from non-EU countries would also be allowed to use the logo if their products abide by the EU rules.
Organic Processing Magazine welcomes Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, to the magazine’s editorial advisory board. As executive director, Caren provides leadership to OTA, driving its existing work while developing programs for the growth of the organic business community with the goal of making organic products a significant part of everyday life.
Fast Company, a leading international business magazine, has named Mike Fata, president and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, as one of the Top 10 Reader’s Favorites in their 2006 Fast 50 edition (manitobaharvest.com).
The Organic Crop Improvement Association International (OCIA) will continue to offer organic certification to Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) through OCIA Japan located in Tokyo (ocia.org).
Quality Assurance International (QAI) has surpassed a company milestone by certifying 259,608 products (qai-inc.com). QAI currently certifies 4,715 organic operations worldwide.
Nature’s Path Foods has made several promotions recently (naturespath.com). Chip Goble has been promoted to vice president of North American Sales; Jeff Davis has been promoted to U.S. national sales manager; Erik Eaton has been promoted to district sales manager east; and David Neuman has been promoted to executive vice president of global sales and marketing.
Main Street Ingredients recently received a “Superior” rating from AIB International for the eighth consecutive year (mainstreetingredients.com). Food processing facilities must receive a minimum score of 900 out of 1,000 possible points to achieve AIB’s “Superior” rating. Main Street scored 940.
Main Street Ingredients also announces that it has added Phil Blanchard and Carla Dewey to its growing sales team.
At the All Things Organic show in May, Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced that Jesse Singerman of Prairie Ventures was elected president of the OTA for 2006-2007 (ota.com). Other officers elected include Julia Sabin of Smucker Quality Beverages vice president representing the United States; Hélène Bouvier of Minnewashta Valley Organics Canada, Inc., vice president representing Canada; Luis Acuña of CF Fresh, secretary; and Chuck Marcy of Marcy & Partners, treasurer.
In OTA’s recent balloting, Phil Margolis of Neshaminy Valley Natural Foods Distributor, Lynn Clarkson of Clarkson Grain Company, and Maria Morgan of Small Planet Foods, Inc., were re-elected to the board. In addition, Dag Falck of Nature’s Path was elected as the new Canadian representative. The board also has selected Todd Linsky of Cal/Organic-Grimmway Farms to fill an appointed position on the board. All four seats are three-year terms.
Kellogg Company is introducing organic versions of some of its top cereals and snacks at prices roughly 15% above their non-organic counterparts (kelloggs.com).
The Organic Crop Improvement Association International (OCIA) Research & Education presented the award for Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year to Dwayne Woolhouse of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Canada, at the banquet after the Annual Membership Meeting in La Crosse, WI (ocia.org).
Mastertaste made several key appointments to its Natural Products, Fragrance, and Flavors Divisions recently (mastertaste.com).
Markus Eckert is now vice president of technical for Flavors, North America; Juan Varela is the vice president of global key accounts for the company’s Natural Products and Fragrance Divisions; Ton Mesters has been appointed vice president of business development of citrus products for Mastertaste’s Natural Products Division.