MORE ON CORPORATE ORGANIC FOOD:
The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image – contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms – is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.
Pioneering brands are re-inventing themselves to widen consumer appeal. However, retailer private labels are also evolving with some transcending traditional boundaries. The O Organics private label has expanded from Safeway retailers into foodservice outlets in the U.S. It has also developed an international presence, marketed by numerous food retailers in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Whole Foods, which touts its support for locally grown food and organic agriculture, imports a great deal of its frozen food from China.
It is a fairly familiar story in business. Someone has an idea, a passion. He or she builds a spectacular small business around that idea, builds a reputation for creating something really unique, and people love the business. Then, the owner sells the company to a large corporation.
By Samuel Fromartz
Fromartz, a business reporter who focused on startup companies in publications like Inc. and Fortune Small Business, writes in the introduction to “Organic, Inc.”: “I was particularly interested in people who sought to manifest their values in their businesses. … The intersection of idealism and business was not an easy place to stand, since one usually trumped the other.” The following statistics – “Sales of organic food had shot up about 20% per year since 1990, reaching $11 billion by 2003” — indicate that the organics industry, which has its roots in utopian ideologies, is in for an interesting ride. – San Francisco Chronicle
Over the past decade many small organic food brands have been snapped up by giant corporations. Clearly, this can be bad for standards and quality.
“It’s now no different from conventional farming – producers are being squeezed, products are over-packaged, let alone the numbers of air miles that are used to fly organic goods around the world.”
SOME NEWS ON CORPORATE ORGANIC FOOD:
AP, Miami Herad – May 23, 2013.
Campbell buying Plum Organics baby food maker
In an interview, CEO Denise Morrison said Campbell planned to keep Plum as a distinct brand. For example, the packaging will not be changed to reflect the new ownership.
Stephanie Strom, New York Times – July 14, 2012
Organic companies swallowed up by Big Ag
Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.
Ari Le Vaux, Denver Post – July 26, 2009
Organic goes down a slippery road
Even as the demand for organic food continues to explode, organic farmers in America are getting thrown under the very beet cart they helped build.
Samuel Fromartz, Huffington Post – July 7, 2009.
Is Organic in an End-Game?
In short, though some are controversial, you would be hard-pressed to find any processed organic food business arguing for a blanket dismissal of all synthetics.
The Cornucopia Institute – October 13, 2008.
Collateral Damage: Organic Farmers Being Squeezed Out
They claim the acquisition of major brands by corporate agribusiness, and their dependence on factory farms, threatens to force families off the land and deprive consumers of the superior nutritional food they think they are paying for.
MORE ORGANIC FARMING NEWS
The Question: How do I decide where to buy?
If you can’t find local suppliers or businesses that you know and trust, here’s a little help:
Responsible Shopper – provides a track record for major companies.