News Bites from the Organic Industry

BUSINESS MILESTONES

Amy’s Kitchen has broken ground in Goshen, NY, for the construction of a 369,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center. Completion is scheduled for 2018, and will create 700 new jobs.

Aurora Organic Dairy Corp. is investing $100 million to build a new dairy processing and warehouse facility in Columbia, MO, to help facilitate distribution to the eastern United States. The company expects the plant to be fully operational in 2019.

Campbell Soup Company has signed an agreement to acquire Pacific Foods of Oregon, maker of organic and natural soups and broths. Campbell Soup said it will maintain Pacific Foods’ certified organic processing facility in Oregon, and that Pacific Foods’ CEO and co-founder Chuck Eggert will stay on as a supplier of ingredients through his farms.

Danone completed the acquisition of WhiteWave Foods Company, owner of Horizon Organic Dairy and Earthbound Farm in April. As a result, DanoneWave was formed, creating the largest public benefit corporation in the U.S. The acquisition was made possible after Danone reached an agreement in principle with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to sell its Stonyfield subsidiary. DanoneWave’s ambition is to produce healthful dairy nad plant-based foods, and coffee creamers and beverages, to create ecoomic and  social value while  nurturing natural ecosystems through sustainable agriculture. As this magazine went to press, Danone announced it had entered into a binding agreement to sell Stonyfield Farm to fellow French company Lactalis.

Dean Foods in June announced that it had acquired Uncle Matt’s Organic®.

KeHE Distributors opened a new distribution center in Douglasville, GA, in April. The 450,000-square-foot distribution center uses energy-efficient practices and includes 100,000 square feet dedicated to freezer and cooler space. It replaces KeHE’s former facility in Kennesaw, GA.

Mercaris announced in mid-April that its Mercaris Auction Platform, the first electronic venue that facilitates the buying and selling of identity-preserved agricultural commodities, had handled the trade of over 280,000 bushels of organic grain—more volume than traded in all of 2016. Mercaris focuses its services on organic and non-GMO corn, soybean, meal and wheat markets across all regions of the United States and Canada, and recently launched an organic dairy products initiative.

Natural Habitats Group’s U.S. subsidiary has moved from California to Boulder, CO. The Netherlands-based multinational sources, processes and trades organic palm oil to customers worldwide.

Papa John’s International Inc., the world’s third-largest pizza chain, in April launched a fresh organic produce pilot program.

Rodale Institute has started a new industrial hemp research project focused on examining the crop’s role in soil health and regenerative organic agriculture.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) announced plans to significantly expand its footprint in Rhode Island, by hiring 100 additional full-time employees by the end of 2018, with a total of 150 new full-time employees by 2020. It currently has over 450 employees in the state.

Amazon announced in June that it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. The purchase is expected to close during the second half of 2017.


MARKETING

Clover-Stornetta Farms Inc. has re-branded its organic and conventional dairy products under the Clover Sonoma name. Organic products comprise about 40 percent of Clover’s overall sales. In December, the company became a Certified B Corporation.

Pacific Foods now markets a line of certified organic tomatoes packaged in BPA-free cartons, including tomato sauce, strained tomatoes, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes with onion, garlic & basil.

Pete and Gerry’s Organics LLC reported it was the nation’s top-selling organic egg brand in the fourth quarter of 2016 based on syndicated retail sales data, for multi-outlets from market research firm IRI. The New Hampshire-based operation said its sales have grown more than 30 percent per year for the past decade and over 50 percent annually for the past two years.

Pure Organic, which recently joined the Kashi family of brands, now markets its Organic Fruit & Nut Bars at Costco in stores across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The organic products are also available nationwide and online.

Stonyfield Farm is reducing added sugar across its organic yogurt product portfolio, with plans to purchase 25 percent less sugar companywide in 2017.

YieldOrganic, which provides a marketing platform for organic and non-GMO producers and buyers to transact online, has added a new enhancement to allow bidding between producers and buyers.


OF NOTE

Ardent Mills has joined Partners in Food Solutions, a U.S. non-profit that connects corporate volunteers with small and growing food businesses in eight African countries in an effort to improve food security, nutrition and economic development, as a corporate partner. Ardent Mills’ volunteer experts will connect with African client businesses to provide technical and business expertise.

Change Your Food—Change Your Life!™ reports its GOOD LiViN Compilation CD album has been played and heard in 174 countries, on Armed Forces Radio Europe & Pacific, and in all 50 U.S. states and D.C.

CJ’s Premium Spices received the Bronze Award in the Salsa/Dips Category of the Specialty Food Association’s 2017 sofi™ Awards national competition for its Dill Dip Mix made using all USDA Organic ingredients.

Clif Bar & Co. has received a Climate Leadership Award for Supply Chain Leadership from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Clif Bar has a green power program, known as 50/50 by 2020, for its operation and supply chain partners, including companies that make their ingredients, packaging or provide baking and logistics services.

Eco-Bags Products Inc. has been re-certified as a B Corporation.

Global Organics Ltd. has announced that the Native Green Cane Project in Brazil, its supply partner for organic cane sugar, has achieved certification from Fair Trade USA. In other news, Global Organics Ltd. is hosting customer appreciation events throughout the year to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The company will continue to bring innovations to the company’s product lines, including value-added organic ingredients and finished products for private label.

Harmless Harvest was awarded a NEXTY Award for Best New Organic Beverage at 2017 Natural Products Expo West for its Harmless Coconut Probiotics made from whole organic coconut.

National Co+op Grocers is participating in the B Corp Inclusion Challenge to set goals and improve on at least three metrics measured as part of the certification process. NCG aims to 1) ensure all NCG staff wages are at least 60 percent above the local livable wage, 2) raise awareness of systemic bias, inclusion and diversity issues by sharing resources with staff, and d3) encourage diversity among its Board of Directors.

Nature’s Path Foods has received Gold Level certification by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for its third and final manufacturing facility, located in Sussex, Washington. The previous year, two of the company’s three facilities were certified at the Gold Level, making Nature’s Path the first and only cereal company in North America to become Zero Waste certified.

Organic Seed Alliance has updated its mission and launched a new website highlighting its research activities, educational events, and policy actions.

Organic Valley has been named Company of the Year by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. The award recognizes Organic Valley’s outstanding commitment to halal compliance and distribution of halal-certified products in the U. S. and abroad.

Organically Grown Company has received the first ever Western Region Sustainable Fleet Award for the Private/Small Fleet category for its continued efforts towards achieving carbon neutrality and eliminating fossil fuel use.

Ribus has received the New Hope NEXTY Editors’ Choice Award for its new ingredient—Nu-MAG™—a rice-based ingredient that takes the place of magnesium stearate and stearic acid, making it possible to make certified organic dietary supplements.

Stonyfield Farm Inc. has become a Certified B Corporation, which certifies for-profit companies that use business as a force for good by meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

The Homemade Organics Company recently completed the District Ventures Accelerator program for Canadian packaged goods companies. The company has moved to Calgary, Alberta, to open its new manufacturing facility and retail location. The company is the first company that produces certified USDA organic personal care and home cleaning products all handcrafted in Canada.


PERSONNEL NEWS

Jan Derecho, who served as interim executive director of the Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm) since last April, is now its new Executive Director.

Grimmway Farms has promoted Ben Diesel to Vice President of Quality Assurance, overseeing quality initiatives across the company’s growing and processing operations.

Healthy Food Ingredients has hired Joni Huffman as Vice President of Domestic Business Development.

Organically Grown Company hired Samuel Braden as Vice President of Operations.

SunOpta has named David Colo, former chief operating officer at Diamond Foods Inc., owner of the Kettle chips brand, as President and CEO.  //


In memoriam

Dave Engel, 65, a Wisconsin organic farmer and titan in the organic world, passed away March 14 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. A dairy farmer, he is remembered for his work as a pioneer and champion of organic and family farmers. He was one of the original seven founding members of Organic Valley, where he sold milk for 23 years.

Over the past three decades, he played an extremely important and influential role in the development and execution of organic standards and certification. Throughout the 1990s, he served on the Board of Directors for Organic Valley, headed the Midwest office for Oregon Tilth, and the local chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) He founded the Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA)in 1999, and subsequently in 2005 Nature’s International Certification Services (NICS). He was one of the brains behind the idea of the MOSES Conference, which is now in its 28th year and is the largest organic farming conference in the United States. He also founded Nature’s International Certification Services. The Engel family and MOSES have established a scholarship fund in Dave's name to send farmers to the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, which Dave helped establish.

He is survived by his wife, Marta W. Engel, his mother, Mary R. Engel, four children—Joshua Engel, Noah Engel, Tobiah Engel, and Lilly Engel, and three grandsons. His sons Josh and Noah currently run Driftless Organics, an organic vegetable operation on the family farm in Wisconsin.

He will be recognized with a tribute as part of the Organic Trade Association’s Awards Event September 13 in Baltimore, MD.

 

 

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