OPN Connect Newsletter 16 · June 15, 2017

Weekly Top 5: Organic News You Need to Know

1. Can Organic Bananas Expand Niche Market?

Bananas are the world's largest traded fruit crop in value terms. With about 15 percent of global production exported, its total trade value stood at around $8 billion in 2016. Organic banana production, on the other hand, remains a relatively niche market, with global organic banana exports estimated to be about 800,000 metric tons - nearly 1.8 billion pounds - in 2016.That's according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization's biannual Food Outlook report, which examines a number of issues that are shaping developments in global banana markets.

Organics Unlimited-April

Growing consumer demand for organic bananas in developed markets, particularly the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, has benefited newer exporters focusing on organic banana production, such as Peru, which is aiming to boost production by 15 percent this year. The largest producers of organic bananas for export are the Dominican Republic and Peru, which together account for about 85 percent of total trade volume. 

Overall, there seems to be ample growth potential for trade in organic bananas, particularly in light of growing demand in the United States, the EU and Japan. However, in absolute terms, global organic banana production is expected to remain a small niche in the medium term. To learn more, click here.

2. Large Organic Produce Supplier Acquires Hydroponic Tomato Co.

Charlies Produce

Mastronardi Produce Ltd., owner of the Sunset brand of conventional and organic tomatoes, has acquired Backyard Farms LLC, a major East Coast grower of hydroponically grown tomatoes. Based in Kingsville, Ontario, Mastronardi sources, grows, packages and distributes more than 50 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce items to customers across North America. The company also distributes the specialty brands Campari, Zima, Angel Sweet and Kumato tomatoes.

Backyard Farms, founded in 2007, produces between 25 and 30 million pounds of hydroponically grown tomatoes in two greenhouses covering 42 acres. The company's greenhouse tomatoes - including tomatoes on the vine, cocktail tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes - are sold in grocery stores from Maine to Maryland, and also carry the Non-GMO Project's Verified label.

Mastronardi said the Backyard Farms brand name will be retained and the company's operations will continue as usual with its president, Stuart Jablon, running the company as a separate brand and a subsidiary of Mastronardi. To learn more, click here.  

Nature Safe

3. Organic Produce Network Presents at United Fresh 2017

The Organic Produce Network Team, Co-founders, Tonya Antle and Matt Seeley, presented an engaging discussion and overview of the US Organic market. Topics included Retail sales analysis, consumer insights, purchasing patterns, and opportunities and challenges on how Washington, DC may impact the fastest growing category in produce.

4. 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo in San Luis Obispo, CA

Held annually in San Luis Obispo, CA, the Sustainable Ag Expo is a multi-day educational seminar bringing the latest scientific and technical information to growers, pest control advisors, and other agricultural professionals interested in and committed to sustainable farming across a range of crops.

Organic Ag Products

Sustainable farming exists in a complicated landscape of practical, social, economic, and regulatory forces.  The educational content of the Sustainable Ag Expo is designed to produce insights and foster conversations on the most pressing issues in the field including pests and diseases, natural resource conservation, technology adoption, and regulatory compliance.

The 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo will be held November 13-15 at the Madonna Inn Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, CA. Exhibitor registration is now open, and attendee registration opens June 26th. Please visit to learn more about the event and to sign-up for email updates.

5. NOP Enforcement Posting Update

Ocean Mist

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) protects the integrity of the USDA organic label and supports fair competition by overseeing the organic market and taking enforcement actions (called adverse actions) when violations are found. 

The NOP is changing how we post enforcement actions. The new approach expands the types of notices we post and makes postings more frequent. Starting in June 2017, we are posting these on a rolling basis, so new Notices will be posted within 1-2 weeks of being issued. 

All enforcement actions are available from links at the base of:

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."

- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787)


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