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Archive for the ‘Organic Food’ Category

France Organic Food & Beverages Market Forecast and … – PR Newswire (press release)

Posted: May 12, 2017 at 1:47 am

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Organic food & beverages market is forecast to touch USD 9.49 billion by 2022, owing to upsurge in the number of diseases caused by consumption of conventional food & beverages grown with more chemicals and pesticides, growing awareness resulting into change in consumers' taste and preference and increasing number of specialist organic stores. France organic food & beverages market is highly competitive market with large number of organic food companies.

In 2016, Organic Dairy Products' category accounted for the largest market share in the country's organic food & beverages market, and was closely followed by Organic grocery products including sweet and salty groceries. North West region is the largest regional market for organic food & beverages in France, as it is home to tens of millions of French consumers with high personal disposable income.

French organic food & beverages industry saw strong growth, owing to institutional support from French Government as well as European Union. Moreover, improvements in macro-economic policies, like moderate inflation and low interest rates also boosted consumers' sentiments and organic industry emerged as one of the beneficiary.

This report elaborates the following aspects of organic food & beverages market in the country:

Key Topics Covered:

1. Product Overview

2. Research Methodology

3. Executive Summary

4. Global Organic Food & Beverages Market Overview

5. France organic Food & Beverages Market Outlook

6. France Organic Dairy Market Outlook

7. France Organic Grocery Market Outlook

8. France Organic Fruits & Vegetable Market Outlook

9. France Organic Bread & Bakery Market Outlook

10. France Organic Meat Market Outlook

11. France Organic Beverages Market Outlook

12. France Other Organic Food Products Market Outlook

13. Supply Chain Analysis

14. France Organic Food & Beverages Market Dynamics

15. France Organic Food & Beverages Market Trends & Developments

16. Policy & Regulatory Landscape

17. France Economic Profile

18. Competitive Landscape

For more information about this report visit

Media Contact:

Research and Markets Laura Wood, Senior Manager

For E.S.T Office Hours Call +1-917-300-0470 For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call +1-800-526-8630 For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907 Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

SOURCE Research and Markets


France Organic Food & Beverages Market Forecast and ... - PR Newswire (press release)

Written by grays

May 12th, 2017 at 1:47 am

Posted in Organic Food

Seeking Organic Foods Get Help from the Web – South Florida Reporter

Posted: May 11, 2017 at 3:43 am

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Why is it so hard to find organic products from your favorite local store?

The simplest answer is scale. If every Walmart decided to sell a wide variety of certified organic foods, there would be a severe shortage on the shelves. Organic products are growing by leaps and bounds in quantity and availability, but theres still a long way to go. In many areas of the country, you simply cant get certain products.

The best alternative is to buy your organic and natural products online. Especially if you have no nearby organic grocer, or if they charge exorbitant sums (often the case), the best option is often to use the internet and just order from home. Let the mailman deliver your groceries and get what you really want. Buying online has the advantages of convenience, variety, and cost savings.


Vitacost is known for its extensive vitamins and supplement line, though they also carry specialty food selection and assorted organic foods. They have the top organic brands Lundberg Farms, Marys Gone Crackers, Theo Chocolate, Bobs Red Mill, Big Tree Farms, Natures Path, Braggs, Eden Foods and much more.


At Amazon, you have access to a wide selection of organic foods at very good prices. You can also save more by subscribing to the save features when on offer. Amazon doesnt carry everything, but they are the leader in online retailing for a reason.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market can be described as an online warehouse of natural food, like Costco but carrying only natural and organic products. With a low annual fee of $59.95, a large family can benefit from their program because you will be ordering more, and therefore gaining the most from the great prices. They add new products every month to widen the selection for everybody. Any order from $49 get free shipping, and you can order anytime you want. They also have a variety of house products that they produce and cannot be found elsewhere. We found a great comparison of these first three options here.


At SunFood, you will find premier health foods including organic, raw and non-GMO superfoods. Some examples include: sweeteners, spices, sea vegetables, olives, nuts and seeds, fruit powders, dried fruits, chocolates, coconut oil and cacao butter.


This is the definition of eating organic with help from the web. You can buy some wholesale items at members store prices even without being a member. They dont require you to place a certain amount of order annually, and you also get free shipping on orders above $50. Boxed has a limited line of organic items but are excellent at what they have.

Azure Standard

This is not your usual online store. You can ONLY place large orders. They dont get shipped to your door; they are shipped to the nearest drop off center for you to pick at a given time. This may seem like an inconvenience, but compared to not being able to get your organic food around, this is ok. You can also visit them if you live near, the prices will amaze you.

Tropical Traditions

This is an umbrella of 4 sites that offer organic food, organic skin care products and organic cleaners. They have good prices and a referral program.

For the Gourmet

This shop caters for chefs and restaurants since they sell organic foods in bulk. It is a great place to find anything you want in case you want to cook some amazing delicacy. Purchasing by the case can also save you a lot of money compared to buying small quantities at other online stores. They stock flours, nuts, rice, beans, and lentils among other selections. They also have cheeses, chocolates, seafood, exotic fruits, and meats.

Greensbury Market

The Greensbury Market is the place for carnivores to get the best organic meats at the best prices for that category. The beef is 100% grass-fed. Buy ground beef, roast, tenderloin, skirt steak, flank, filet mignon, New York strips and others. Their pork comes from heirloom variety raised in the Midwest with no antibiotics or hormones.

Cultures for Health

For those who want to start making yogurt, cheese, kombucha and tofu among other fermented foods, this is the place to find all that you need. Even though not all their products are organic, you will find organic vegetables, organic sprouting seeds, organic bone broth, and organic rice koji among many more products, told and equipment related to the organic movement. Visit Cultures for Health.

3 Bears Organic

This Portland-based online store deals in organic and natural food. You will find most of the major organic brands here. They only sell by the case, which is a good thing for those with large families and wants to save. They carry hundreds of products including sauces, pasta, beans, rice, vinegar, spices, nut butter, jams, olives, vegetables, canned fruits and flours among much more.

Now you have no excuse to get exactly the foods you need to eat a super clean diet. Everyone can get their preferred organic food and ingredients easily from online shops no matter where they are located. So start surfing around to find what you need today!

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Seeking Organic Foods Get Help from the Web - South Florida Reporter

Written by admin

May 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

Posted in Organic Food

Kemmerer Gazette | Is buying organic produce always the way to go? – Kemmerer Gazette

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Should we only buy organic produce? There is not a definite yes or no answer to this question. There may be important time periods at which people are more vulnerable to the potential harm of pesticide residues on our food: just prior to conception, during pregnancy, and during early childhood.

There is evidence that organophosphate pesticide exposure during these time periods is associated with deficits in cognitive and behavioral development in children.

There are some clear environmental benefits to buying organic produce. However, it is unclear whether there are health risks to consumers from ingesting pesticides from conventional produce.

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases their Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. Using pesticide residue data from the USDA, the EWG ranks the highest and lowest pesticide fruits and vegetables.

The 2017 Dirty Dozen list contains strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. The 2017 Clean Fifteen list contains sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and grapefruit.

EWG recommends buying the organic versions of the fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list to minimize exposure to synthetic pesticides.

Organic agriculture utilizes crop rotation, compost and manure as fertilizers, soil and water conservation practices, natural methods for managing pests, and no synthetic pesticides. Some of the goals of organic agriculture, according to the USDAs organic program, are to promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.

Pesticide exposure: The Environmental Protection Agency sets limits for safe consumption of pesticides; they estimate an exposure level called the chronic reference dose, the amount of a chemical a person could be exposed to daily throughout life without any harmful effects.

A 2011 study estimated typical amounts of exposure to synthetic pesticides based on the USDAs pesticide residue data for fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list. They found that most pesticides were present at amounts one thousand times smaller than the chronic reference dose.

Even the highest pesticide residue detected was only 2 percent of the chronic reference dose. This puts the Dirty Dozen list in perspective: it means that even the highest pesticide conventional produce is very low in pesticides.

Is that small amount of synthetic pesticide any risk to consumers? Some scientists think that pesticide residues do not pose health risks, because humans and other animals are exposed to small amounts of naturally occurring toxins in every plant food we eat. The body regularly breaks down self-produced metabolic wastes and naturally occurring carcinogens in foods, as well as pesticides, and excretes these harmful substances.

Greater concentrations of urinary breakdown products of synthetic pesticides have been found in frequent consumers of conventional produce compared to frequent consumers of organic produce, and several short-term studies have shown that switching conventional foods for organic foods reduces urinary pesticide metabolites.

However, evidence is lacking whether the consumer gains any significant health benefit by eating organic instead of conventional produce.

What about people who work with pesticides in agriculture? Studies suggest a link between pesticide exposure and brain cancer, Parkinsons disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach and prostate.

A study comparing several markers of DNA damage in blood samples of conventional and organic farmers found evidence of greater DNA damage in conventional farmers. This suggests supporting organic agriculture can help to reduce the harmful effects of synthetic pesticide exposure for those who work in agriculture and are exposed to very high doses.

There are environmental advantages. Organic agriculture avoids conventional fertilizers, aiming to prevent harmful nitrogen runoff into waterways. Avoiding synthetic pesticides prevents pesticide contamination of groundwater.

Although organic pest management methods may not work as well as conventional in some cases, there is a great deal of evidence that organic crops bring better soil quality, less soil erosion, more plant diversity, and more diversity in insects, soil organisms, and birds.

Regarding nutritional differences, there appears to be a small increase in antioxidant content in organic fruits and vegetables compared to their conventional counterparts.

There is growing evidence that exposure to a mixture of synthetic pesticides is harmful to the bees we depend on as pollinators for many crops.

A shift toward organic agriculture could help to alleviate some of the stress on bee populations.

Note that the Dirty Dozen are not our major dietary source of exposure to harmful chemicals. Exposure to persistent organic pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides and PCBs occurs primarily via fatty animal foods like fish, dairy products, and meat.

Also, glyphosate, an herbicide linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in agricultural workers, is present primarily in processed foods.

By centering your diet on unrefined plant foods, you will automatically reduce your exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals. The large volume of studies performed on typical, pesticide-treated produce has demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, protects against chronic diseases.

For your health, consuming a diet of vegetables, beans, fruit, nuts, and seeds is the most important action you can take. If you are able to buy organic vegetables and fruits, that is preferable, especially for our children, the environment and for farmers.

Dr. Fuhrman is a New York Times best-selling author and a board certified family physician specializing in lifestyle and nutritional medicine. The Eat To Live Cookbook offers over 200 unique disease-fighting delicious recipes and his newest book, The End of Heart Disease, offers a detailed plan to prevent and reverse heart disease using a nutrient-dense, plant-rich eating style. Visit his informative website at Submit your questions and comments about this column directly to [emailprotected]

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Kemmerer Gazette | Is buying organic produce always the way to go? - Kemmerer Gazette

Written by grays

May 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

Posted in Organic Food

Danes increasingly acquiring a taste for organic food – The Copenhagen Post – Danish news in english

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Danes are voting through their wallets and sending a clear signal that they want a food production system more in harmony with nature and with fewer chemicals being used.

Figures just released from Danmarks Statistik show that sales of organic food increased by 15 percent during 2016. In other words, every Dane consumed organic food worth 2,000 kroner last year.

It is still items such as milk, cheese and eggs that are the most popular, but sales of organic vegetables increased by 26 percent.

READ ALSO: Arla to produce more organic milk

Now, organic foods count for 9.6 percent of total food sales in Denmark.

The figures show clearly that Danes are now ready for even more organic food. Supermarkets have been competing with each other to have the broadest range of organic foods, explained Kirsten Lund Jensen, the head of the organic section at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.

In total, 334,900 tonnes of organic foodstuffs with a value of 8 billion kroner were sold in 2016. Of this, milk, cheese and eggs accounted for almost half.

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Danes increasingly acquiring a taste for organic food - The Copenhagen Post - Danish news in english

Written by grays

May 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

Posted in Organic Food

Organic Dairy Industry Responds to WaPost Story on Certification Issues –

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For brands in the $40 billion U.S. market for organic food and beverages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic seal is more than just another call-out for product packaging it defines their position in the retail landscape.

The integrity of the USDA Certified Organic seal is critical to the industry as a whole, and a reason why a recent article in The Washington Post is raising concerns from some members of the organic dairy community about how the practices of some large scale organic dairy operations may be affecting other brands and companies working within the space.

Nate Lewis, Farm Policy Director at the Organic Trade Association (OTA), told BevNET the group supports investigations into any allegations of wrongdoing across the supply chain, citing the need to assure the public trust in organic certified products.

The message were hearing from our members is sort of alleging that the whole system is broken because of the potential for or allegations of wrongdoing really does a disservice to the thousands of operations, inspectors and certifiers that are doing a really good job safeguarding the organic seal, he said.

The allegations Lewis refers to originated in a May 1 article by Post reporter Peter Whorisky, titled Why your organic milk may not be organic, which examined several large scale organic dairy operations and found critical weaknesses in the unorthodox inspection system used by the USDA.

The agencys guidelines for organic certification of dairy livestock requires for cows to be grazed on pasture during grazing season and to be kept in healthy, low-stress environments, as well as other provisions. Any organic operation with sales in excess of $5,000 per year, as well as companies that wish to sell products to be used as organic ingredients, need to be certified by a USDA-accredited agent.

In its reporting, The Post visited a facility run by Aurora Organic Dairy in High Plains, Colo. over eight days last year. Reporters at no point observed more than 10 percent of the herd, or a few hundred cows, grazing on pasture. In addition, tests conducted for The Post by scientists at Virginia Tech showed that Auroras milk matched conventional milk rather than organic when examined for a key indicator of grass-feeding.

A spokesperson for Aurora denied the accusations, telling The Post: The requirements of the USDA National Organic Program allow for an extremely wide range of grazing practices that comply with the rule.

Discussions with people in the organic food and beverage community about the revelations detailed in The Post drew a range of responses.

In an e-mail to BevNET, Beth Unger, regulatory engagement manager at Organic Valley, an independent cooperative of organic farmers based in Wisconsin, echoed those feelings. If a producer isnt following the rules, there is a process for investigating and revoking their certificates, protecting those who are following the rules, she said.

A spokesperson for Horizon Organic, which partners with over 600 family farms in 23 states to supply the majority of its milk, said in an e-mail that the company was focused on promoting the benefits of organic by building solidarity and collaboration in the industry.

We rely on consumer confidence in the organic seal for its success in the marketplace, and this confidence is intrinsically linked to a rigorous system of audits, inspections, and monitoring of all certified operations to organics clear and strict standards, said the spokesperson.

In an interview with BevNET, Errol Schweizer, a former vice president of grocery for Whole Foods and a board member for several companies in the natural food space, emphasized that the issues discussed in the Post article did not reflect a larger concern across the organic industry and that the operations highlighted in the story are the exception rather than the rule. Yet he noted that mass scaling in organic, which has brought lower prices and broadened consumer access to such products, may have enabled a looser interpretation of standards.

I think theres a problem with the scale creating a race to the bottom in terms of quality, unless theres really strong check and balances in the system. Schweizer said. When youre able to sell organic products cheaply, I think its important as a retailer or a customer that you have to scrutinize your supply chain. We have to appreciate that it is accessible and available and theres many more people consuming organic, but I think there is some price to pay here because what you see probably doesnt meet the expectations of what most consumers would consider organic.

Expanding beyond individual operations, the Post story also detailed issues related to the organic certification process, in which USDA-accredited agents private companies and organizations hired by individual farmers make annual inspections. The USDA reviews the records of each inspector every 2.5 years.

In its review of Auroras practices, The Post found that staff from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, at an annual cost of $13,000, conducted an inspection after the conclusion of grazing season in November. The USDA requires all inspections to take place during grazing season, which typically runs from spring until the first frost. Sanctions can include financial penalties of up to $11,000 per violation and potential revocation of the farm of businesss organic certificate.

According to a list published on the USDAs website, the most recent U.S. accreditation firm to lose its accreditation was Organic National and International Certifiers in April 2014.

Im not a regulatory expert, but I do feel that theres probably a loose interpretation of the standards here and theres definitely some responsibility on the shoulder of the certifier, said Schweizer. I have a hard time understanding how these types of farms are passing the audit, and then that the USDA is continuing to allow these farms to pass an audit based on their production methods. So I see it mostly from the retail point of view, but my gut says theres something wrong there.

Exerting influence over regulatory bodies is one way in which brands and trade organizations are taking action to safeguard and improve organic standards. Lewis said that the OTA seeks to influence regulatory guidelines through its involvement with the National Organic Standards Board, the body which advises the USDA on organic guidelines.

I think our main objective [at OTA] in that real is to ensure that the organic standards are scale neutral and consistently applied across the board regardless of size or location of operation, he said, adding that the organization advocates for strong funding of the National Organic Program as well as the USDA. Having a level playing field for all types of producers is really the best way to ensure integrity, maintain public confidence and to allow all types of operations to succeed in the organic marketplace.

We are on record supporting stricter standards especially for animal health and welfare, such as the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, said Unger, referring to a comprehensive set of federal standards for on-farm welfare currently being deliberated. We believe the standards should optimize animal health and maximize their opportunities to express their natural behaviors.

While pushing for gradual improvements on a regulatory level, Schweizer said that the most immediate way of addressing issues related to organic certification was for the industry to scrutinize itself more closely.

I just think that there needs to be an effort on the part of the organic community and that includes both producers, consumers and retailers to police their own, he said. I think democracy in the marketplace and transparency and making sure that folks are all playing by the rules is as important as the enforcement on the regulatory side from certifiers as well as agencies. I want to emphasize that there needs to be scrutiny from the organic community and the organic industry on folks that are playing loose and fast with the regulation that we all have to follow to maintain the integrity of the marketplace.

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Organic Dairy Industry Responds to WaPost Story on Certification Issues -

Written by grays

May 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

Posted in Organic Food

The organic option – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Posted: May 9, 2017 at 6:48 pm

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Do parents know what is in their students' lunches? In the past decade, the nutritional requirements for school lunches have greatly increased. Former first lady Michele Obama made some alterations in regulations, calling for more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to be included in a healthy meal for students. What was not included in these changes was a requirement for schools to provide organic foods.

Most school cafeterias do not have, nor do they identify, organic foods so students can choose what they eat wisely. When I go through the lines in our cafeteria, there is nothing to indicate how the food is produced. I have no idea if it is organic or non-organic, or whether the food could cause health problems when I eat too much of it. While more grocery stores are providing better access to organic foods, school cafeterias are not providing the same option. If organic foods are not provided to students, then the option of eating healthier foods without harmful additives is taken away from students whoare unable to bring a lunch from home.

There are many positives for what this simple change can do.

Organic foods are healthier. Non-organic foods are usually made less naturally. Instead of being made in kitchens, many of the foods are produced in bulk in factories. These foods include ingredients you normally would never add to what you eat. Additives such as partially hydrogenated oil, food dyes and high-fructose corn syrup are included to preserve and add flavor; they can cause harm when eaten regularly. Ingredients such as these have been known to lead to obesity, heart disease and even cancer. Exposing students to these ingredients on a regular basis increases their risk for these health concerns.

Furthermore, organic foods are free of harmful toxins. Non-organic food is produced with fertilizers, chemicals and antibiotics. Substances such as these are harmful to humans, animals and the environment. In fact, they cause chemical runoffs while also making humans and animals ill. In today's competitive business environment, large companies produce food mainly for the profit, rather than quality. Unfortunately, this lack of quality has consequences for the environment. Schools are bringing up our future citizens; they should teach environmental responsibility and set an example for what foods are provided at lunch.

Schools should switch to organic foods because they have many health and environment benefits. Organic foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics, and are made without many preservatives. Studies have shown that they have even more nutritional value than non-organic foods. Organic food is a rapidly growing industry because of all the people wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change, and is subsequently leading our world back to the natural way food should be produced.

Although organic food is a little more expensive and harder to get, it is a growing industry that has many health benefits. If more schools are required to have organic options, demand will increase for organic food, thus motivating businesses to increase the supply. While cost and access will be difficult initially, these issues will eventually subside. Ultimately, students will be healthier, which is the primary goal of this change.

Organic food should be included as a part of the nutritional standards for school meals. Current regulations do not go far enough in requiring foods without harmful additives and toxins.

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The organic option - Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Written by admin

May 9th, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Organic Food

Natural grocer Sprouts seen landing in S. Philly, Moorestown in nationwide expansion –

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Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., a grocer focusing on organic and natural foods, appears to be eyeing at least two Philadelphia-area locations as it brings its fresh veggies, grass-fed meats, and other munchies for the nutrition-minded to a broader swath of the United States.

The Phoenix-based chain is to be a tenant at the Lincoln Square development at Broad Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia, according to a presentation posted to the website of the developments owner, Kimco Realty Corp.

Sprouts also has a deal to take space in part of a property formerly occupied by Macys at the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County, according to an April report in Food Trade News, an industry publication.

Sprouts, which now has 268 stores in 15 states though none yet in the Northeast is in the middle of an expansion aimed at satisfying growing demand for organic and minimally processed foods at prices that are said to often undercut competitors'.

Sales of organic food soared in the United States to $43.3 billion in 2015, from $3.6 billion in 1997, according to the Washington-based Organic Trade Association.

Burt Flickinger III, managing director of the retail consultant Strategic Resource Group in New York, said that Philadelphia, where Whole Foods currently has a near monopoly on the appetites of the kale-munching set, is particularly promising for the retailer.

But competition is heating up, with Moms Organic Market about to open its first Center City store after locations in Bryn Mawr and Cherry Hill and existing grocers in the region, including Aldi and ShopRite, boosting their own organic and natural offerings, he said.

Bfresh, a sibling of Giant Food Stores under the Ahold Delhaize corporate umbrella, and Germanys Lidl also are expected to enter the market soon with stores that lean heavily on organic foods, Flickinger said.

All this could be good news for consumers, he said: There will be a price war in Philadelphia of unprecedented proportions.

Sprouts did not immediately respond to an email seeking details about its planned Philadelphia locations.

Leigh Minnier, a Kimco spokeswoman, said she could not confirm any details about Sprouts plans at Lincoln Square, where it would share lower-level retail space with a Target Corp. store and a branch of the PetSmart chain.

Kimco paid $10 million for a 90 percent interest in the South Philadelphia development project, which also will include 322 rental apartments, the New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based shopping-center company said in an April news release announcing its earnings.

Heather Crowell, a spokeswoman for Moorestown Mall-owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, said Tuesday that she could not confirm the Food Trade News report. Officials with the company said last month that a food market was among three new tenants that will take the place of the malls shuttered Macys store.

Sprouts chief executive Amin Maredia said during a May 4 conference call with analysts that the company has 63 sites approved for new stores and 43 signed leases for the coming years, but he did not specify their locations.

Its late 2016 openings included a Raleigh, N.C., store that is now the closest Sprouts location to Philadelphia, as well as a new produce-distribution center in Atlanta, he said.

The company also is said to be exploring a merger with Albertsons Cos., owner of the regionally prominent Acme Markets chain,Bloomberg reported in March.

Robert Gorland, a supermarket-site-selection specialist with Rahway, N.J.-based Matthew P. Casey & Associates, said he doesnt think Sprouts would be closing in on the two Philadelphia-area locations if it didn't have bigger plans for the region.

You would think they might be looking at some other sites, versus opening one store in Pennsylvania and one store in New Jersey, he said.

Published: May 9, 2017 11:59 AM EDT | Updated: May 9, 2017 12:11 PM EDT

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Natural grocer Sprouts seen landing in S. Philly, Moorestown in nationwide expansion -

Written by simmons

May 9th, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Organic Food

Why your milk may not be truly organic – Allentown Morning Call

Posted: May 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm

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The High Plains dairy complex reflects the new scale of the U.S. organic industry: it is big.

Stretching across miles of pastures and feedlots north of Greeley, Colo., the complex is home to more than 15,000 cows, making it more than a hundred times the size of a typical organic herd. It is the main facility of Aurora Organic Dairy, a company that produces enough milk to supply the house brands of Wal-Mart, Costco and other major retailers.

"We take great pride in our commitment to organic, and in our ability to meet the rigorous criteria of the USDA organic regulations," Aurora advertises.

But a closer look at Aurora and other large operations highlights critical weaknesses in the unorthodox inspection system that the USDA uses to ensure that "organic" food is really organic.

The U.S. organic market now counts more than $40 billion in annual sales, and includes products imported from about 100 countries. To enforce the organic rules across this vast industry, the USDA allows farmers to hire and pay their own inspectors to certify them as "USDA Organic." Industry defenders say enforcement is robust.

But the problems at an entity like Aurora suggests that even large, prominent players can fall short of standards without detection.

With milk, the critical issue is grazing. Organic dairies are required to allow the cows to graze daily throughout the growing season that is, the cows are supposed to be grass-fed, not confined to barns and feed lots. This method is considered more natural and alters the constituents of the cows milk in ways consumers deem beneficial.

But during visits by The Washington Post to Aurora's High Plains complex across nine days last year, signs of grazing were sparse, at best. Aurora said their animals were out on pasture day and night but during most Post visits the number of cows seen on pasture numbered in the hundreds.

A high-resolution satellite photo taken in mid-July by Digital Globe, a space imagery vendor, shows a typical situation only a few hundred on pasture. At no point were there any more than 10 percent of the herd out.

In response, Aurora spokesperson Sonja Tuitele dismissed the Post visits as anomalies and "drive-bys."

The milk produced also provides evidence that Aurora cows do not graze as required by organic rules. Testing conducted for the Post by Virginia Tech scientists shows that on a key indicator of grass-feeding, the Aurora milk matched conventional milk, not organic.

Finally, the Post contacted the inspectors who visited Aurora's High Plains dairy and certified it as "USDA Organic." Did their inspectors have evidence that the Aurora cows met the grazing requirement?

It turns out that they were poorly positioned to know.

The inspectors conducted the annual audit well after grazing season in November. That means that during the annual audit, inspectors would not have seen whether the cows were grazing as required, a breach of USDA inspection policy.

"We would expect that inspectors are out there during the grazing season," said Miles McEvoy, chief of the National Organic Program at USDA. He said that the grazing requirement is "a critical compliance component of an organic livestock operation."

If organic farms violate organic rules, consumers are being misled and overcharged.

In the case of milk, consumers pay extra often double when the carton says "USDA Organic" in the belief they are getting something different. Organic dairy sales amounted to $6 billion last year in the U.S.

The failure to comply with organic standards also harms other farms, many of them small. Following the rules costs extra because grazing requires more land and because cows that dine on grass typically produce less milk.

Whether an organic dairy is grazing its herd is relatively easy to see, especially if roads criss-cross their pastures. It is more difficult, however, for outsiders to judge whether a dairy is following other organic rules such as those regarding hormones and organic feed.

Ten years ago, after a complaint from a consumer group, Aurora faced USDA allegations that it breached organic rules regarding grazing and other issues. The USDA charged that Aurora was in "willful violation" of organic standards, but a settlement agreement allowed them to continue to operate.

There have been no charges since then.

But some small organic dairy farmers say that the new, large organic dairies that have popped up in the Southwest are violating standards.

On one-day visits to several large organic operations in Texas and New Mexico, a Post reporter saw similarly empty pastures. It was difficult to determine where their milk winds up on retail shelves, however, and so no chemical tests were pursued.

"About half of the organic milk sold in the U.S. is coming from very large factory farms that have no intention of living up to organic principles," said Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin nonprofit group representing thousand of organic farmers.

"Thousands of small organic farmers across the United States depend on the USDA organic system working. Unfortunately, right now, it's not working for small farmers, or for consumers."

Integrity of 'USDA Organic' seal

The "USDA Organic" seal that appears on food packaging essentially a USDA guarantee of quality was created by federal rules in 2000.

Until then, convincing customers that a product was "organic" could be a murky proposition everyone relied on informal definitions of organic and informal measures of trust.

The "USDA Organic" seal changed that, standardizing concepts and setting rules. It has proven a boon: Organic food sales rose from about $6 billion annually in 2000 to $40 billion in 2015, according to the Organic Trade Association.

The integrity of the new label, however, rested on an unusual system of inspections.

Under organic rules, the USDA typically doesn't inspect farms. Instead, farmers hire their own inspectors from lists of private companies and other organizations licensed by the USDA. An inspector makes an annual visit and it is arranged days or weeks in advance. Only 5 percent of inspections are expected to be done unannounced.

To keep the inspectors honest, the USDA reviews the records of each inspection outfit about every 2 1/2 years.

This inspection system saves the USDA money because it doesn't have to hire many inspectors. The compliance and enforcement team at the USDA National Organic Program has nine people one for every $4 billion in sales.

McEvoy acknowledged that having farmers choose their inspection companies is "fairly unique" within the USDA, but he noted that rising sales show that consumers "trust the organic label."

Others have doubts. Cornucopia publishes its own scorecard of organic dairies because, its officials say, the USDA has failed to weed out the bad.

"Consumers look at that cartoon label on organic milk with a happy cow on green pasture with a red barn, but that's not always the reality," said Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association. "What we've said all along is that organic milks are not created equal, and your results show that."

Impact on small dairies

At the other end of the scale from Aurora are many small dairies who have come to rely on the USDA Organic label, investing in the opportunity it represents, believing in its promise.

Several years ago, for example, Bobby Prigel, a fourth-generation dairyman with a 300-acre spread of rolling pastures and white plank fences in northern Maryland, made the switch.

With milk prices declining and feed costs rising, Prigel figured he had to try something different. The herd had been in the barn area for decades, munching feed. One day he shooed them out to pasture.

Here's the funny thing, he said: his cows seemed confused. Though cows are natural grazers like the wild aurochs they descended from the grazing instincts of his cows had been dulled.

"They didn't really know how to graze at first they didn't know how to bend down and get grass with their tongues," Prigel said one day during a break on his farm. Nor were they accustomed to walking much.

Prigel, meanwhile, had to make economic adjustments.

Producing milk according to the "USDA Organic" standard costs more.

To begin with, organic cows cannot be given hormones to stimulate milk production. And any feed or pasture for the cows must be organic that is, grown without most synthetic pesticides.

Second, to be considered organic, cows must obtain a certain percentage of their diet from grazing. Prigel is a purist and feeds his herd entirely from the pasture, but most organic dairies supplement the pasture with corn, soybeans or other grains, even during the grazing season.

The grazing requirement makes milk more costly to produce because it requires a certain amount of pasture land and because a grazing cow produces less milk than one eating a grain diet optimized for milk production.

With grass-fed cows, "there's just not nearly as much milk," Prigel said.

On the upside, a farmer can sell certified organic milk for almost double the price of conventional, and there are other benefits, too: The milk is measurably different, and according to the USDA, it improves cow health and reduces the environmental impacts of agriculture. Moreover, because grazing is natural cow behavior, some believe it is more humane.

"Cows aren't supposed to stay inside and eat corn," Prigel said.

Conducting tests of milk

The grazing season typically runs from spring until the first frost. To evaluate the Aurora operation, the Post visited the High Plains dairy complex nine days during that period three in August, three in September and three in October. Roads criss-cross the farm allowing a view of their fields. In addition, in July, a satellite for Digital Globe snapped a high-resolution photo of the area.

Each of those ten days, only a very small portion of the 15,000 cow herd was seen on pastures. Many more were seen in feed lots.

In response, Aurora officials said that during the grazing season the cows are on pasture both day and night. Maybe, they said, on those days, the cows were elsewhere, being milked or otherwise tended.

However, the Post visited at different times of the day, sometimes twice in a day. Because the cows are milked in shifts, thousands of them should be out at any given time, farmers said.

Aurora did say that they stopped their grazing season on Sept. 30, so it's not surprising no cows were seen on the three days in October. It's unclear why Aurora decided to end their grazing season then, though, because the first frost was not until Oct. 20 in that area, according to weather records.

To see whether a lack of grazing was apparent in the milk, the Post turned to Virginia Tech dairy science professor Benjamin Corl, who analyzed eight different milks, some organic, some not, and all bottled during grazing season. He performed the tests without knowing the brand names of the samples.

Grass-fed cows tend to produce milk with elevated levels of two types of fat. One of the distinguishing fats is conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, which some regard as the clearest indicator of grass-feeding. The other is an "Omega-3" fat known as alpha-linolenic acid. Both have been associated with health benefits in humans, although the amounts found in milk are relatively small.

Another type of fat linoleic acid, an Omega-6 fat tends to be sparser in milks that are pasture fed.

The results: Prigel's milk stood out for its grassy origins. It ranked at the top for CLA and was a distant last for linoleic acid.

The milk from Snowville Creamery, another brand that boasts of pasture-grazing, ranked second for CLA.

"Those two milks stood out like sore thumbs," said Corl, who "You can tell those animals have been on grass."

At the other extreme were the conventional milks from 365 and Lucerne. They ranked, as expected, at the bottom for the fats associated with grass feeding and at the top for the fat associated with conventional feeding.

Large organic brands Horizon and Organic Valley ranked roughly in between the extremes for two of the three measures.

As for Aurora's milk, despite its "USDA Organic" label, it was very close to conventional milk. On two of the three measures, CLA and linoleic acid, they were pretty much the same as conventional milk. On the third measure, alpha-linolenic acid, Aurora ranked slightly better than the conventional milks, but below the other USDA organic samples.

The milk tested by the Post had been processed at Aurora's Colorado processing plant, according to the number stamped on the bottle. More than 80 percent of the milk that Aurora sells is produced at its own farms; it also purchases milk from other dairies, according to the company.

It wasn't the first time that Aurora milk has tested poorly for signs of grass feeding. In 2008, The Milkweed, a dairy economics report, compared Aurora's milk to other organic milks. Of 10 organic milks ranked for the fats associated with grass feeding, Aurora's was last.

"There has been an obvious failure by USDA to enforce the organic pasture standard," Pete Hardin, editor and publisher of The Milkweed, said in a recent interview.

Investigation 10 years ago

Tuitele, the Aurora spokesperson, dismissed the milk tests and declined to comment in depth on them because they were "isolated" and because there are "so many variables that are unknown."

She suggested that Aurora milk may have tested differently, not because of a lack of grazing, but because Colorado pastures may have different plants. But milks from the Rocky Mountain region and those from the Mid-Atlantic vary a little, according to a 2013 study of organic milks published in PlosOne not enough to explain the gap in the results.

Aurora's inspectors also stood by Aurora's milk.

While most inspectors are private organizations, Aurora hired staff from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which it pays about $13,000 annually.

When asked about the Aurora inspection being done after grazing season, an official for the Colorado Department of Agriculture initially suggested that other audits may have been conducted at High Plains last year. But Tuitele later wrote that the November visit was the only audit of its High Plains complex last year.

Aurora and their inspectors have been under scrutiny before.

About 10 years ago, the USDA launched an investigation into Aurora's organic practices.

By April 2007, USDA said it identified "willful violations" of organic rules by the dairy. Aurora had, among other things, for three years "failed to provide a total feed ration that included pasture."

The USDA proposed to revoke Aurora's organic status.

It also also proposed to suspend the Colorado Department of Agriculture from certifying organic livestock "due to the nature and extent of these violations."

Four months later, though, the case was resolved.

Aurora pledged to make improvements and was allowed to continue operating. It issued a press release saying that the USDA had "dismissed the complaints ... following an extensive review" a finding contrary to the view at USDA, which issued a press release saying "the complaint was not dismissed." It noted that the consent agreement called for Aurora to "make major changes."

For its part, the Colorado Department of Agriculture agreed "to make several changes in its operation," including hiring more personnel and staff training, according to a USDA press release.

Aurora also settled a related class action lawsuit for $7.5 million in 2012, and said it did not admit wrongdoing.

Since then, Aurora, already gargantuan, has continued to grow. In recent months it has been considering an expansion in Columbia, Mo., that may rely on milk from as many as 30,000 cows, according to local media coverage.

The growth of mega-dairies that skimp on grazing and produce cheap milk appears to be crushing many small dairies, some analysts said.

"The mom and pop the smaller traditional family dairies who are following the pasture rules are seeing their prices erode," said Hardin, The Milkweed editor. "It is creating a heck of a mess."

Will Costello contributed to this report.

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Why your milk may not be truly organic - Allentown Morning Call

Written by simmons

May 8th, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Posted in Organic Food

Should Taxpayers Back the ‘Organic’ Label? – Cato Institute (blog)

Posted: May 5, 2017 at 8:48 pm

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Why are consumers willing to pay almost double for food labeled organic? The average consumer probably believes that the USDA Organic label issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture implies the food comes from small local farms that use production techniques that are environmentally friendly and result in food that is better for human health. The Washington Post published an article recently about an organic farm that does not seem to be consistent with such perceptions. The High Plains dairy complex in Colorado, the main facility of Aurora Organic Dairy, has over 15,000 cows. In the organic dairy industry 87 percent of farms have less than 100 cows, but farms with 100 or more cows produce almost half of organic dairy products.

The Post article argues that these large dairy operations may be violating the USDAs regulations for organic milk. Though Aurora officials maintain that they meet all the requirements for the USDA Organic label, the article contends that satellite images, visual inspections by Post reporters, and tests of milk from High Plains all indicate that the company may not be complying with the natural grazing standards of the organic regulations.

But the Post article misses the important point that even if Aurora were in technical compliance with the grazing regulation, the label does not convey any information about health and environmental benefits. As then-secretary of agriculture Dan Glickman stated at the release of the final standards for organic foods in 2002:

Let me be clear about one thing: the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is organic a value judgment about nutrition or quality.

John Cohrssen and Henry Miller, in the spring 2016 issue of Regulation, argue that on average, organic foods are neither safer nor better for human health than non-organic foods. And the USDA has located the National Organic Program in the departments Agricultural Marketing Service, a service that is exempted from environmental analysis because its programs and activities have been found to have no individual or cumulative effect on the human environment. In fact, organic farms may cause more harm to the environment because they require the use of more land and water than conventional farming.

Though the touted benefits of organic foods may be non-existent, federal spending on organic agriculture under the 2014 Farm Act was over $160 million dollars and customer perceptions of organic food safety and quality persist. As Cohrssen and Miller note, a 2014 Academics Review analysis concluded that because of the USDA Organic label, the American taxpayer-funded national organic program is playing an ongoing role in misleading consumers into spending billions of dollars in organic purchasing decisions based on false and misleading health, safety, and quality claims.

Whether or not Aurora has been following the standards of organic labeling or organic foods live up to their supposed benefits, the organic label itself has been very useful for farmers. But should government aid producers at the expense of consumers and taxpayers?

The rest is here:

Should Taxpayers Back the 'Organic' Label? - Cato Institute (blog)

Written by simmons

May 5th, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Organic Food

The New Gobox from Grower’s Organic Provides Fresh Alternative to CSAs – Westword

Posted: at 8:48 pm

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Friday, May 5, 2017 at 9:55 a.m.

The standard Gobox filled with organic produce from Grower's Organic.

Mark Antonation

Grower's Organic co-founder Brian Freeman has been working in the organic produce business long enough that he remembers when people would tell him that organic farming was just a fad that wouldn't last. But that was before Grower's Organic launched in 2005 as a wholesale company focused on supplying local grocery stores and restaurants with quality fruits, vegetables and herbs. And this spring, Freeman has launched a new program to sell directly to consumers: Gobox weekly produce boxes.

Community Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs, are nothing new; customers fork over a few hundred dollars before the growing season begins to ensure the farmer has cash flow to get things growing; in return, weekly boxes of whatever the farm is growing are delivered to those who have contributed. It's a great way to support local farms while supplementing your grocery purchases with healthy vegetables. But the process has a few shortcomings that most CSA members are willing to overlook. Early-season boxes tend to be underwhelming in terms of variety, and even at the peak of growing season, deliveries can be dominated by whichever crop is biggest at the time. That's fine for items like tomatoes or cherries that can be preserved, but what to do with all that zucchini?

The Pretty Ugly box is great for shoppers who prize flavor over beauty.

Mark Antonation

Gobox solves those problems by utilizing produce from the entire network of farms in the Grower's Organic network. Freeman works closely with organic Colorado farms to bring in the best of everything in season, but he also looks to California, Mexico and elsewhere to broaden his selection (for example, watermelon are at their peak in Baja, Mexico, right now, but won't be ready for several months in Colorado). That means the Goboxes will always be filled with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. To critics of shipping organic produce long distances, Freeman points out that conventionally grown produce is often so dependent on petroleum products for heavy machinery, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that organic food trucked in from Mexico or California still has a smaller carbon footprint than non-organic Colorado produce, all while increasing the scope of organic farming around the world.

The Goboxes come in several configurations and price points. The small, standard package (pictured above) is meant for one or two people for a week and costs $22; there's a large size for three or four people for $32. The Pretty Ugly box comprises the less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables that are often discarded by grocery stores or that end up being processed into canned or frozen products because they don't meet most shoppers' standards of beauty. The produce is still tasty and edible Freeman says some of them are actually better because of concentrated sugars but may appear wrinkled, spotted or misshapen. The Pretty Ugly box comes in the small size only and costs $17, with $1 of each purchase going toward We Don't Waste, a nonprofit organization that redistributes unused foods from restaurants and other food-service facilities.

Grower's Organic will also soon launch a Foodie box (June 16) with more exotic items like white asparagus and fava-bean pods, and the Native box (July), which will be filled with Colorado-grown produce, both at a slightly higher price point.

Whichever box customers choose, there's no membership required. You can start and stop at any point, so you're not committed to spending hundreds of dollars. Just sign up on the Grower's Organic websiteby noon Thursday on a given week for pickup on Friday or Saturday (you choose the day and time), then head over to Grower's Organic at 6400 Broadway.

Scott Callender shows off lettuces grown in his shipping-container vertical farm.

Mark Antonation

The Gobox program isn't the only thing new at Grower's Organic. Out back, a shipping container has been converted into a vertical vegetable garden by Scott Callender, owner of Callender Farms. Callender grows lettuces, herbs, peppers and other vegetables on vertical strips suspended from the ceiling of the container. Lighting, water and carbon dioxide levels are all controlled to give the plants the best growing environment while limiting the use of resources.

Callender says his setup uses 90 percent less water than conventional farming, and he can grow as much produce in 320 square feet of space as he could on 1.6 acres of land. Salanova lettuce is one of his biggest crops, but chives, a zippy wasabi arugula and even root vegetables are part of the output. Callender sells to restaurants through Grower's Organic, so you may have already eaten something from the vertical farm without realizing it.

Organically grown wasabi arugula from the Callender Farms vertical farm.

Mark Antonation


The New Gobox from Grower's Organic Provides Fresh Alternative to CSAs - Westword

Written by grays

May 5th, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Organic Food

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