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.”
Max Goldberg, Founder
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.
First Bev has acquired a controlling stake in kombucha brand Health-Ade, with additional investment in the company coming from Manna Tree.
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.
Experts say this verdict could have much wider ramifications.
Beyond Pesticides filed another lawsuit against a company alleged to be mislabeling CBD products as organic.
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.
An excellent piece about how toxic chemicals cannot compete against superweeds -- which may ultimately force farmers to look toward more organic and regenerative practices.
Our government continues to put the interests of chemical companies ahead of the well-being of American citizens.
The maker of all-natural, over-the-counter healthcare products closed on an oversubscribed Series A.
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.
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.
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* 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.