Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, April 2018

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NEWS ■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 12 APRIL 2018 Certifi ed-Transitional Ingredients Help Meet Consumer Demand for Organic Products During March's Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA, Kashi (La Jolla, CA) explained how, in the face of limited or- ganic farmland in the U.S., the company's certif ed-transitional ingredients are helping to meet high consumer demand for organic in- gredients by serving as ingredients that, while not 100% certif ed organic, are grown on farms that are transitioning to organic crops. At the show, another company, ingredients supplier Bunge North America (White Plains, NY), also highlighted the role of certif ed-transitional in- gredients as U.S. farmers transition their land to fully organic farmland. Currently, less than 1% of U.S. farmland is certif ed organic, which means that even as consumer demand for organic ingredients continues to grow, U.S. farmers are f nding it dif cult to keep up with that demand. In addition, the traditional transition process for converting conventional farmland to or- ganic farmland is time- and labor-intensive. According to USDA guidelines, it can include a three-year transition period and myriad up-front costs, which can be prohibitive for farmers who want to make the switch. With this in mind, companies like Kashi and Bunge are turning to certif er Quality Assurance International (QAI) and its Certi- f ed Transitional program. QAI is a USDA- accredited certif cation body associated with organic food products. Its Certif ed Transi- tional program certif es crops grown on farms that are transitioning from conventional to organic practices. In order to be deemed cer- tif ed transitional, ingredients must be grown using sustainable processes and ensure that no genetically modif ed seeds and synthetic pesticides are used. T e program is designed to "recognize and incentivize farmers to tran- sition their land from conventional to organic growing methods," according to the organiza- tion's website. Kashi says it was the f rst company to establish a partnership with QAI under the Certif ed Transitional program. T e brand f rst introduced a product featuring QAI's Certif ed Transitional seal back in 2016, and now, more companies, such as ingredients f rm Bunge, are participating in QAI's Certi- f ed Transitional program. At Natural Products Expo West, Bunge introduced its own certif ed-transitional corn ingredients. Gregg Christensen, vice president, sales, Bunge Milling, explained why the program is important in a recent press statement: "T e certif ed-transitional market gives farmers an opportunity to sell this corn at a premium…during their shift to certif ed organic, incentivizing them to make the move into organic farming. Bunge is tak- ing the lead in corn by connecting farmers with food manufacturers who are interested in certif ed-transitional products as a way of building a more scalable and reliable future supply of organic products." Tina Owens, director, sustainability and strategic sourcing, Kashi, told Nutritional Outlook at the show that Kashi "saw a need in the marketplace for conversations around helping farmers transition. We looked into the issue and found out that less than 1% of the farmland in the U.S. is organic, even though the size of the market for organic foods is 5%-6% of the market. We decided that we needed to create a path for ourselves and other brands to be able to help more farmers convert to organic." She added that much of the growth in the organic products category comes from imported ingredients, which is not something that consumers—or even many in the industry—know. Owens elaborated on how QAI's certif ca- tion process works: "We call it 'organics in training'…because in many ways it's mirror- ing the organic process all the way through. T e farmer is following the National Organic Program's three-year transition process. T e USDA outlines what it takes for a farmer to transition in those three years, and then QAI is certifying that at the farm." She added that QAI's certif cation process goes beyond the farm and through the production process as well. For example, she said, the farmer's corn "goes into a facility that cleans and mills it into f our, and then it comes into our facility and we run it on a line that has been certif ed tran- sitional. T e farmer has treated it like [an or- ganic ingredient]; it just doesn't have the cer- tif cation yet. And then everybody else that's touching it is treating it as if it were organic, all the way through the process." Bunge, for its part, noted that all of its cer- tif ed-transitional corn ingredients are made from U.S.-grown transitional corn that has been certif ed by QAI. Added Christensen: "T anks to our robust supply chain and long- standing network of farmers—including those progressing to certif ed organic—Bunge is uniquely positioned to provide a reliable sup- ply of certif ed-transitional corn ingredients to complement the rest of our USDA certif ed organic and Non-GMO Project Verif ed grains and oils portfolio." But will customers who are more informed than ever today about where their ingredients come from, including organic and non-GMO ingredients, be satisf ed with a product that is in transition, rather than 100% certif ed or- ganic? Kashi says it has been straightforward in introducing consumers to the concept of transitional organic. In fact, the packaging for all of Kashi's certif ed-transitional prod- ucts features photographs of the farmers whose land is in transition to becoming fully organic, along with a message to consum- ers explaining that while the product is not 100% organic, "that's the whole point." Owens said that educating savvy consumers about the issues facing the organic farming indus- try empowers them, and that in purchasing a product that features certif ed-transitional ingredients, consumers can "vote with their dollars" to support U.S. organic farmland, as well as the farmers who work it. Read the full version of this story at ubm.so- cial/QDEHGD Stay informed! See the latest news at NutritionalOutlook.com

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