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Why Developing Partnerships with Organic Farmers is Becoming So Essential for Brands....and Our Food Supply

(Tradin Organic training cacao farmers on regenerative techniques in Sierra Leone)

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With the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report painting an alarming picture about the future food supply, the organic industry is already feeling the effects.

As we documented in the last newsletter, 40% of the U.S. organic food production is in jeopardy and some organic farmers in California are currently unable to use up to 75% of their land because of a lack of water. Similar situations are playing out throughout the rest of the world.

The question for many organic brands is: what can they do to both help support the planet and ensure a consistent supply of raw ingredients to meet the needs of their customers going forward?

For Elizabeth Whitlow, Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance, the answer is clear.

“Brands need to be prepared to support farmers in ways they haven’t done in the past. This means recognizing the challenges that farmers face, helping to provide stability in their communities and becoming true partners with them. On a very practical level, it is making sure they get the technical assistance that they need because farmers are not in a position where they can take chances when deciding how to tackle problems in their soil. There is no margin for error.”

Aside from the drought, many farmers are now facing new issues with insects or weeds, and successful regenerative techniques, such as cover crops or no-tillage, can vary depending on a farm’s geography. What works in California won’t necessarily be effective in Pennsylvania. Or in Africa.

Tradin Organic, a global supplier and distributor of organic ingredients, is very active in all parts of the world, including Africa, and it has invested heavily to build regenerative organic supply chains in this region.

In Sierra Leone, the company has been dedicating a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources to get its regenerative organic cacao project off the ground, not only to build the infrastructure and social pillars within the community but also to create more resilient farmland.

“The farmers in Sierra Leone have been dealing with less water than before and low soil fertility,” said Karst Kooistra, Sourcing Development Director at Tradin Organic. “We’ve been working with them to implement proven techniques, such as reforestation and the planting of fruit trees, all with the goal of improving soil fertility, sequestering carbon and improving yields.”

On the other side of Africa, in Ethiopia, Tradin Organic has built an organic avocado supply chain from scratch. Through farmer field schools and input provisions, Tradin helped farmers adopt regenerative agroforestry practices, including a vermicompost project and having them grow avocado trees on organic coffee farms, so as to provide important shade for the coffee. 

In order to help get this project off the ground and make it a viable, long-term success, Tradin joined forces with Nutiva, who not only created a market for this product in the U.S. but invested heavily in the project itself, well before the avocados were available for purchase.

“This partnership provides conflict-free organic avocado oil made from peacefully sourced and fully traceable Ethiopian avocados that give back to local communities through education and fair, transparent pricing,” said Steven Naccarato, CEO of Nutiva. “During the last four years, the supply network has grown to include more than 78,000 organically certified smallholder farmers whose livelihoods are bolstered by these new relationships. By diversifying the crops that they grow and sell, farmers increase the biodiversity of the land they steward and their income streams. This is all part of our mission to revolutionize the way the world eats.”

Back in the U.S., challenges on the West Coast are immense, and resources are not always available — both of which make involvement from brands even more critical.

“At the state level in California, there is a real funding gap for providing important technical expertise, particularly for BIPOC and Spanish-speaking farmers,” put forth Nathanael Gonzales-Siemens, Organic Agriculture Consultant for Western States & Specialty Crops at Rodale Institute. “Forward-thinking brands would be well-advised to become true partners with farmers and help get them trained on regenerative organic techniques. This will greatly assist them in managing the drought and sequestering more carbon, while simultaneously developing and diversifying a brand’s farmer base. Not only is this the smart thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do — for the well-being of farmers and for the viability of our long-term food supply.” 

With gratitude,

Max Goldberg, Founder

New Organic Products

New Organic Products

POP Functional Soda from REBBL

New from REBBL comes POP, a sparkling functional soda that is packed with plant-powered ingredients to support immunity and digestive health. Vegan, gluten-free and made without cane sugar, these prebiotic drinks are only 50 calories and contain only 5 grams of sugar. Available in four flavors -- Root Beer, Mandarin Orange, Blackberry and Ginger Lime.

No Added Sugar Granola from Nature's Path

Nature's Path has just introduced a line of No Added Sugar Granola. Available in two flavors -- Vanilla Almond Butter and Mixed Berry -- these organic granolas are naturally sweetened with dates, which have been sorted, pitted and ground into a finely milled flour.

Macadamia Nuts from GoodSam Foods

GoodSam Foods sources its organic macadamia nuts directly from 5,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, many of whom are women. With 22g of fat and 2 net carbs per serving, these macadamias come in two varieties: raw & unsalted and dry roasted & salted.

Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Flourless Tortillas from Food for Life

Food for Life has introduced Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Flourless Tortillas. Containing zero mg of sodium per serving, they are made from a unique combination of freshly sprouted grains and legumes that provide a source of complete protein. Available in the freezer section.
This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course
Center for Food Safety

EPA Cancels All Food Uses of Brain-Damaging Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

In a historic victory for farmers, the environment and public health, the EPA announced that it will be revoking all tolerances of chlorpyrifos, effectively banning all food uses of the toxic, brain-damaging pesticide in the U.S.

Food Navigator

First Bev takes Majority Stake in Health-Ade

By Mary Ellen Shoup

First Bev has acquired a controlling stake in kombucha brand Health-Ade, with additional investment in the company coming from Manna Tree.


Organic Meal Delivery Service Trifecta raises $20M

With an annual run rate of $100M, Trifecta will use the capital for further expansion of its core prepared meal delivery services and immersive digital offerings.    

Food Navigator

Miyoko's Wins "Butter" Lawsuit for Plant-Based Products

By Elaine Watson

Experts say this verdict could have much wider ramifications.


Beyond Pesticides and OrganicEye Continue Their Fight Against Mislabeled Organic CBD

Beyond Pesticides filed another lawsuit against a company alleged to be mislabeling CBD products as organic.

Second Course

Nutiva acquires Coconut Secret

Nutiva made a very smart move by acquiring Coconut Secret and its popular soy sauce alternative Coconut Aminos. A great fit with the company's existing coconut-based product line.

The New York Times

NYT: Attack of the Superweeds

By H. Claire Brown

An excellent piece about how toxic chemicals cannot compete against superweeds -- which may ultimately force farmers to look toward more organic and regenerative practices.

Sustainable Pulse

The EPA Buried an Internal Report Linking Glyphosate to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Our government continues to put the interests of chemical companies ahead of the well-being of American citizens.

PR Newswire

OrganiCare Raises $8.5 Million Series A

The maker of all-natural, over-the-counter healthcare products closed on an oversubscribed Series A.


Butterfly invests in MaryRuth Organics

The LA-based private equity firm has taken a stake in the vitamin and supplement brand MaryRuth Organics.

Third Course

TOP the organic project Secures $2M in Seed Extension

TOP the organic project, a women-owned, organic period startup, will use this funding to expand its presence among retailers nationwide and also to grow its product line.


Apeel Doubles Valuation, Raises $250M

By Riley de Leon

Primary investors in the company’s latest financing include Katy Perry, Andreessen Horowitz, Anne and Susan Wojcicki, ex-powerhouse agent Michael Ovitz, and Temasek, which led the round.

Egypt Today

Egypt Plans to Establish a City for Organic Farming

With an initial investment of $20M, the 4,000-acre organic farming city will be an integrated agricultural, industrial, urban and tourist community, and a total of 100 acres will be allocated to the production of spirulina.


Brandless raises $118M

The digitally-native company has reinvented itself and recapitalized, closing a massive round led by Clarke Capital Partners.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* At next month’s Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia, masks will be required AND proof of vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test. The in-person 2021 Fancy Food Show in NYC has been canceled.

* Rodale Institute has announced the three recipients of its 2021 Organic Pioneer Awards —  Jay Feldman, Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides; Denise O’Brien, farmer, Founder of Sustainable Iowa Land Trust and Co-Founder of the Women Food and Agriculture Network; and Don Bustos, family farmer and Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Mexico Program.

* Organic farmer Jennifer Lester Moffitt has just been confirmed by the Senate to serve as USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

* Arran and Ratana Stephens, co-founders of Nature’s Path, will be appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province’s highest form of recognition.

* LA-based organic grocer Erewhon is now a Certified B Corp.

* Holy Kombucha has signed a partnership with quarterback Quinn Ewers, the country’s #1 football recruit and recent Ohio State enrollee. This will also bring more attention to the company’s involvement with Hope Squad, which helps prevent teenage suicide.

* Clean Juice has released a national TV commercial featuring Heisman Trophy winner and SEC legend Tim Tebow.

* In 2023, Wegmans will open its first Manhattan store.

* The brutally competitive world of $10 ice cream.

* As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, the Whole Kids Foundation will be giving a record $3 million in garden grants to help schools and non-profit organizations start or expand edible learning spaces.

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