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Organic CEOs Give Their Thoughts on the Year Ahead

Welcome back and I hope everyone had a great holiday!

For the first column of this new year, I asked a handful of CEOs what they think will happen or what they would like to see happen in 2019 — for them personally, their company or the industry as a whole. Here is what they had to say.


In 2018, the global scientific community did everything in its power to show us that the urgency of the climate crisis is far greater than we thought (and we thought it was bad). We can no longer tolerate debate, delay, or greenwashing — it’s time now for the rest of us to do everything in our power to solve humanity’s biggest challenge.

At Patagonia, we’ll be committing more energy and more resources in 2019 and beyond to confront climate change head-on, including huge investments in regenerative organic agriculture. We’ll be doing everything we can to build products that last forever and can be repaired and re-used, so we can reduce consumption and build a circular economy. And we’ll be doing everything we can to show the entire business community that we all must be in business to save our home planet.

— Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia


I would like to see the industry come together and re-commit to the values and ideals behind the organic movement. This is not just setting and enforcing high standards for quality and fighting hard against fraudulent imports and the like, which, if not pursued aggressively, could undermine trust in organic forever. But it also pertains to the organic values around community, environmentalism, and a sustainable farm economy.

Organic is not about a quick buck. Rather, it is about honoring a set of ideals that commit us to leaving the world a better and safer place for our kids and the next generation. We need to stand up and fight for organic, as many threats loom large. And one of the biggest threats is having the organic industry itself forget and become disconnected from our roots, the change we represent, and what we really must stand for.

— John Foraker, CEO and Co-Founder of Once Upon a Farm


In 2019, I’d like to see more brands take responsibility for the agricultural supply chains that produce their primary raw materials and ingredients for their products. This means making sure they are regenerative and organic with fair prices and wages for farmers and workers, and ensuring humane treatment for any livestock involved. The Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) will be what consumers look for in the years and decades to come.

— David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s


2019 will be an important year for the continuous evolution of the organic beverage industry, and Suja intends to stay ahead of the game when it comes to the change within our industry. Our mission to democratize organic beverages at an affordable price point began with juice, but over the past few years we’ve ventured into other healthy beverage segments where we see the opportunity to transform current store-shelf options into organic, clean label versions that consumers demand.

Suja will continue to push boundaries, pioneer change within the organic beverage space and cater to functionalities outside of just providing consumers with organic products as they pay more and more attention to what goes into their bodies in the coming year.

— Jeff Church, CEO and Co-Founder of Suja Juice


In 2019, I hope that we in the organic industry will make real headway in doing what it takes to become regenerative. A study published in Science in June of 2018 reports that the food and agriculture sector accounts for over a quarter of global GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions and is therefore a significant contributor to global warming. Global warming increasingly impacts us all, especially the world’s poor and food-insecure, and it is up to us as leaders to be part of the solution now — we have no time to lose when it comes to the effects of global warming, and the world depends on us to make real changes.

Fortunately, we are already moving in the right direction, with many of us banding together and making commitments to building regenerative businesses, supporting regenerative agriculture, and nurturing a regenerative society that invests in the long-term care of its people and its environment. My goal is to continue to ensure that this is a primary driver of REBBL’s work and develop partnerships with like-minded companies.

— Sheryl O’Loughlin, CEO of REBBL


Consumer buying trends favoring clean ingredients and organic foods aren’t going away. But we think 2019 will be the year conscious consumers also begin focusing on how our food systems affect our broader ecosystems, namely in the form of soil and water health with practices like regenerative farming (farming that rotates crops or animals to maintain soil health), low impact or biodynamic viticulture, responsible aquaculture, and other holistic approaches to mitigating our environmental impact.

At Thrive Market, we’re committed to bringing more and more options like these online, so you’ll see us doubling down on quality of our supply chain and storytelling around our incredible producers in 2019.

— Nick Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Thrive Market


This is a big, breakout year for the organic industry coming together with a cohesive voice across categories, products, and stakeholders in the supply chain. We will magnify our collective vision to transform agriculture and popular culture alike — connecting the dots from source to science to story. In 2019, organic will become ‘the new normal.’

— Marci Zaroff, CEO and Founder of MetaWear and Farm to Home


With the recent signing of the Farm Bill, 2019 will unquestionably be the year of hemp and CBD. At RE Botanicals — my latest hemp venture — we will help educate CBD users and the natural food industry on two vital issues in today’s Wild West of misleading hemp claims.

1) That USDA organic certification is a must-have for any hemp or CBD product if you care about your health and that of the planet.

2) That organic alcohol extraction of hemp flowers produces the highest-quality product with the lowest carbon footprint. Consumers and retailers need to pay close attention to how CBD is extracted, and we want to play a role in raising the awareness of this very important issue.

Let’s regenerate our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems and the planet’s soils and oceans with hemp!

— John Roulac, Founder and Chief Hemp Officer of RE Botanicals and Founder of Nutiva


Currently, organic alcohol makes up less than 1% of the total spirits, beer and wine market, and we believe that our industry can do better. We also know that just like in other categories, when offered the option, consumers will choose organic. So, in 2019, we are going to work hard to rally our customers and distributors to help push organic alcohol so that it mirrors overall food sales in the U.S., where organics comprise roughly 5% of the total market.

Additionally, throughout this year, Prairie Organic Spirits will be dedicating financial resources to help transition more farmland to organic. We believe it’s time for the spirits industry to help support and grow the organic movement because it’s simply the right thing to do — for our land, for our farmers, and for our future — and we’re more committed than ever to do our part.

— Mike Duggan, CEO of Prairie Organic Spirits


Have a great day!

Max Goldberg, Founder

New Organic Products

New Organic Products

Cashew Fiesta Dip by Trader Joe's

This vegan organic dip from Trader Joe’s is made from a base of cashews and also contains potatoes, carrots, onions, green chile peppers, and spices. Plus, it is oil- and soy-free.

Paleo Puffs by Lesser Evil

Seeking to capitalize on the grain-free trend, Lesser Evil has rolled out organic paleo puffs. They are made with organic cassava, coconut and sweet potato flours, and come in three flavors — apple cider vinegar, “no cheese” cheesiness, and Himalayan pink salt.

Orange Mango Juice by Morning Kiss Organic

Morning Kiss Organic has added to its existing line of cold-pressed organic juice — orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemonade — with an orange mango flavor.  Available in 12-ounce and one-liter bottles.

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This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course
Living Maxwell

With its New GMO-Labeling Rule, the USDA Has Completely Failed the American Consumer

The USDA placed the interests of ag-biotech companies well ahead of those of the American consumer. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

Des Moines Register

Thousands Were Victims of Massive Organic Grain Fraud

A Missouri man admitted selling $142 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat of fraudulently labeled organic grains over a 7½-year period.


The Strategic Reason Why Amazon Plans to Expand Whole Foods

By Sarah Perez

Amazon wants to put more customers within the range of its two-hour Prime Now delivery service, including suburban areas and in regions where Whole Foods does not currently have a presence.


Second Course
The Cornucopia Institute

IMPORTANT READ: Why an Organic Dairy Farmer Called it Quits After 40 Years

By Jim Goodman

Please read this story. It is critical that people understand the impact of the USDA turning a blind-eye to organic factory farms.

The Wall Street Journal (paywall)

Big Tongues and Extra Vertebrae -- The Unintended Consequences of Gene Editing on Animals

By Preetika Rana and Lucy Craymer

The unintended side effects of animal gene editing confirm the fallacy that scientists know how gene editing works “all the time, under all conditions.”

Food Navigator

What is Keeping Food & Beverage Executives Awake at Night as We Head Into 2019?

By Elaine Watson

Leaders of a handful of food & beverage companies talk about what they are most worried about as we enter a new year.

Grocery Dive

Amazon is Struggling to Make Online Grocery Profitable

By Jeff Wells

Despite the fact that Amazon leads online grocery sales, its supermarket competitors that offer e-commerce options are experiencing much bigger average ticket sizes and seeing more frequent trips to their stores.

Third Course
New Hope Network

Peet's Coffee to Take Majority Stake in Revive Kombucha

Peet's Coffee has increased its ownership in organic beverage brand Revive Kombucha, with Sean J. Lovett and Rebekah Lovett, co-founders, maintaining their equity and leadership positions at the company.


Organic Soda Company Wild Poppy Gets Acquired

Wild Poppy, which sells organic soda and juice, has been purchased by the publicly-traded Life on Earth, Inc.


Hippeas closes $8M Round, Expects to Hit Profitability in 2019

By Carol Ortenberg

Organic snack brand Hippeas just closed on an additional $8M of financing, which was led by existing investor CAVU Venture Partners.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* A few days ago, I sent out my special quarterly report for premium subscribers of Organic Insider called Regenerative Organic Certification and The Real Organic Project: What Organic Brands Need to Know About These Two Add-On Labels.

* If you are a premium subscriber and did not receive it, please respond to this email and let me know. I will send it to you right away.

* If you are not a premium subscriber of Organic Insider but would like to receive this and future quarterly reports, please become a premium subscriber today.

* Inspired Organics had three of its organic butters recalled for listeria contamination.

* There is an 11-year-old girl who is making organic vegan dog treats for homeless pets.

* In Los Angeles, meet the woman who is serving organic, plant-based meals to the homeless on Skid Row.

* GMO plants that aid in air purification? Um, I’ll pass and not take a chance on the unintended side effects. I’d rather stick with my Intellipure.

* These 5 luxury hotels take farm-to-table dining seriously.

* Last week in Naples, Florida, I discovered three fantastic spots — organic supermarket Food & Thought, pressed organic juice bar Juicelation, and organic restaurant Cafe Nutrients.

* Hollywood director James Cameron and his wife Suzy not only have a 12,000-acre organic farm in New Zealand but nearby they run a café and grocery store, Forest Food Organics, which sells produce from their land. Very cool!

* My Top 5 Organic Food Trends for 2019 — in case you left for winter vacation early and missed the most recent Organic Insider.

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