Weekly Top 5: Organic News You Need to Know
1. Will Sprouts Join Albertsons?
Reports this week indicate food retailer Albertsons is in talks to purchase natural and organic specialty retailer Sprouts.
Albertsons needs organics to appeal to the health-conscious affluent customer, but its current stores also aren’t drawing low-end customers away from dollar-store chains or Wal-Mart. With the German chain Aldi expanding rapidly in the U.S., and planned arrival of European competitor Lidl this year, it’s expected that grocery price wars will be a growing factor for Albertsons and other chains. For more read the story here.
2. United Arab Emirates (UAE) Makes Organic Produce Available and Affordable
A new program sponsored by the UAE government subsidizes farming equipment, provides training for local organic farmers and introductions to supermarket buyers. The program is run by UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
The new program’s goal is to ensure that local organic produce is available and affordable around the country.
The organic UAE brand, which is mostly in line with European organic standards, is now available in Union Co-Ops around the country and in Lulu Hypermarkets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. For more details, click here.
3. EWG Suggests 2018 Farm Bill Reforms Will Help Organic Keep Pace with Growing Demand
A recent report by the Environmental Working Group suggests if Congress makes modest reforms to current programs in the 2018 farm bill, American farmers would be in a better position to meet the demand for organics by increasing the number of organic farms and the amount of organic acreage.
Among key suggestions included in the report:
- Reforming the Conservation Stewardship Program to create bundles of conservation practices specifically to help producers who want transition to organic.
- Reforming the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative to provide organic and transitioning producers with the same level of support as those in the general funding pool.
For the full EWG report, click here.
4. National Organic Program (NOP): Sunset 2017 Amendments to National List
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), as part of its oversight for the National Organic Program, renewed 187 substances in the recent 2017 Sunset Review of the National List. These substances will continue to be allowed for use in organic agriculture until March 15,2022 when the next required five-year review is scheduled.
The list includes both natural substances which are prohibited and synthetic substances which are allowed for organic use. AMS recommended 11 substances be removed and welcomes comments from growers and the public until April 19. For more or to comment, click here.
5. The Boston Red Sox ‘Green Monster’ Really IS Green!
A 5,000 square foot organic garden in the midst of Boston’s Fenway Park will grow over 7,500 pounds of organic produce atop Red Sox landmark home. Green City Growers, which created and manages the third base side rooftop farm, harvests the organic produce which is served during games at the EMC restaurant and concessions throughout the park.
Another Green City Growers’ garden graces the roof atop Whole Foods in Lynnfield, MA, the first major grocery chain to offer its customers “rooftop produce”, with selections ranging from basil and sage to tomatoes and kale. Garden offerings are also used in merchandising the produce department as well as in Whole Foods’ prepared meals.
Christopher Grallert, a partner in Green City Growers, says, “We take under-utilized urban spaces and transform them into interactive, integrated gardens that are used for activities, education, events and provide hyperlocal fresh organic and utilitarian products.” Learn more here.
The debate to create a federally mandated marketing order for the organic industry to fund promotion and research for organics continues. In previous OPN Connect stories, we offered background on the proposed legislation background on the proposal and provide information on its impact to the organic produce industry. The following is an overview of what some industry leaders are saying.Read More
Sixty five percent of traditional retailer grocery shoppers said organic produce is the key gateway for them to begin exploring a store’s other organic and natural offerings – products that are beyond just the perimeter of the store, according to a study by Acosta Inc. The report, Back to our Roots: The Rise of the Natural/Organic Shopper indicates growing organic/natural purchases include dairy, soup, pastas, oatmeal and other cereal products.
Produce is the number one “must have” organic or natural item in the report.Read More
Vic Smith speaks with Tonya Antle about his winding career in the organic industry, millennials, his view on the use of ponics and more.Read More
The hot topic of discussion during the National Organic Standards Board meeting this April will be whether to strengthen guidance on organic seed use. While organic seeds have become more available, the amount of organic seeds used by growers has not increased, leading many to believe increase organic seed production is not moving quickly enough for the industry.Read More
By Melody Meyer, vice president of policy and industry relations, United Natural Foods (UNFI)
The rise of Non-GMO foods has stormed the aisles of almost every supermarket, natural food store and big box outlet, running rip shod over almost every other label claim. I can even find the Non-GMO claim inside my local gas-mart amongst the nuts and chips. Forecasts indicate that the global Non-GMO foods market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.23% during the 2017-2021 period.
You likely recognize the Non-GMO Project's easy-to-spot label with its brilliant orange butterfly logo anointing packages throughout the store. That butterfly identifies the leading verifier of Non-GMO product. As this mighty butterfly alights on more and more products, do consumers really understand what the label means?Read More