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P&G’s Maine Manufacturing Plant Is Its 9th Zero Waste To Landfill Site

December 6, 2010: 12:53 AM EST

Procter & Gamble’s Auburn, Maine feminine care manufacturing plant becomes its first production facility in North America to use all of its waste, sending none to landfill: 60 percent is recycled and the rest is incinerated to generate electricity, some of which is used at the site. Surplus electricity is sold to the local power company. P&G’s Global Asset Recovery Purchases team, working with employees and suppliers, has created a solution that not only diverts thousands of tons of waste from landfill, but also saves the company millions of dollars in costs. Auburn becomes the company’s ninth plant to reach zero waste to landfill and is part of P&G’s long-term aim to achieve zero waste to landfill throughout the company, with a 2020 goal of 0.5 percent. 

"P&G Announces Its First North American Manufacturing Plant to Achieve Zero Waste to Landfill ", Procter & Gamble, December 06, 2010, © Procter & Gamble
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Organic Farmers Must Be More Inventive When Protecting Crops From Pests

November 29, 2010: 09:52 AM EST

Organic farmers have to be more resourceful in protecting crops from pests, because they don’t have access to the chemical pesticides used by conventional farmers. Powerful organic bug sprays just don’t exist. But organic farmers have access to a growing body of knowledge about methods, known collectively as integrated pest management, to keep bugs at bay. That knowledge is growing at least partly because the 2008 farm bill provides $20 million a year to research organic pest control technologies. The funding supports 24 current research projects. A key finding so far: natural enemies are the cornerstone of organic pest control. Wild sunflowers, for example, provide a home to lady beetles and parasitic wasps that kill bad bugs; planting alyssum among lettuce plants attracts hoverflies that kill destructive aphids.

Jim Robbins, "Farmers Find Organic Arsenal to Wage War on Pests", N Y Times, November 29, 2010, © The New York Times Company
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US Organic Food Market Trends Remain Strong, Says New Marketsmonitor Report

November 25, 2010: 08:43 AM EST

Marketsmonitor has released a report on the organic food market in the US (“US Organic Food Market Analysis”). It is being driven by a population that has growing incomes and is increasingly aware of issues such as personal health, the environment, food safety and animal welfare. The research found that the US organic food market grew annually at between 16 and 21 percent in the period 2000 to 2008, and managed to survive the economic slowdown, with positive growth in 2009. The industry is expected to benefit further from government support as well as from the growing acceptance of organic food, and the authors forecast a CAGR of 13 percent in the 2010-2014 period. The picture in the US differs between regions, with interest in organic food stronger in states such as California, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.  

"US Organic Food Market Analysis by Marketsmonitor", Marketsmonitor.com, November 25, 2010, © Marketsmonitor.com
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Whole Foods Removes HFCS-Containing Products From California Stores, But Not Nationwide

November 24, 2010: 06:22 AM EST

Whole Foods said that starting in January 1, 2011, the company will stop selling products that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in its stores in northern California. Whole Foods regional grocery buyer Parrish Placencia has admitted in an email that the company has “historically sold only a few products that contain HFCS.” This confirms some customers’ complaint that the company has been selling HFCS-containing products for some time. Whole Foods’ practice of using HFCS as an ingredient in its own pastries and cookies means the organic food retailer has no basis for selling these products at premium prices. The company indicates it  has no interest in removing HFCS-containing products from its stores nationwide.

Kelsey Blackwell, "Whole Foods drops products with high fructose corn syrup, kind of", New Hope 360 Blog, November 24, 2010, © New Hope 360
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EC Seeks To Make Farm Subsidy Payments More Equitable, But Also “Greener”

November 19, 2010: 09:40 AM EST

Hoping to update and make more fair its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of subsidies for farmers, the European Commission has proposed a restructuring plan. The proposal calls for increasing subsidies to smaller East European farmers, but linking payments to environmental and food security goals. The EU several Central and East European countries in 2004, but the subsidy amounts are calculated based on production volumes of EU members in 2000-2002. Payments between old and new member states vary from €500 per hectare in Greece to less than €100 in Latvia. Debate on the new plan will start next July when the Commission proposes its budget for 2014-2020. The Commission said its other major priority is to promote the diversity of European agriculture with a rural policy that features "a green component".

"Brussels outlines vision for 'fairer' EU farm policy", EurActiv, November 19, 2010, © EurActiv
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OTA Disputes Fox Business News Report Touting Safety Of Conventional Produce

November 18, 2010: 09:34 AM EST

The Organic Trade Association (OTA), responding to a Fox Business News report that purportedly said chemically-grown produce is safer, said the only way consumers can minimize dietary exposure to pesticides is to purchase organic products. The OTA cited research by a Harvard assistant professor who has found that pesticide residues detected in the urine of children who eat conventionally produced fruits and vegetables disappear when children eat organic produce. Exposure to pesticides has been linked with higher risk of birth defects, the OTA said, as well as the onset of autism,  neurodevelopment problems in vulnerable fetuses and young children. “Consumers should know that organic foods have the least chemicals applied in their production and the least residues in the final products,” an OTA official said.

"Pesticides are a real health threat: Organic products offer a healthier choice", News release, Organic Trade Association, November 18, 2010, © Organic Trade Association
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Danish Bakery Chains Prosper Despite Recession And Opposing Philosophies

November 16, 2010: 09:03 AM EST

Two Danish bakery chains – Lagkagehuset  (“The Cake House) and Emmerys – with distinctly opposite points of view about baking are flourishing  despite harsh economic conditions. Lagkagehuset, whose12 stores offer various traditional pastries and fresh-baked breads, is expected to show a $31 million profit this year, nearly double last year’s earnings. Emmerys, which is focused on organic baked goods, has 23 outlets, each offering breads and desserts and imported gourmet organic products, including wines and coffees. Both companies charge a lot for their loaves, about $6. A British chef says the rise of the two bakery chains is “an amazing plus for the people of Copenhagen,” because they have given Danes “a new-found interest for one of the most fundamental elements of daily life.”

Natalia Rachlin, "Danish Bakery Chains Turn Carbohydrates to Gold", New York Times, November 16, 2010, © The New York Times Company
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Study Urges Simplified Federal Process For Approving Ingredients For Organic Foods

November 15, 2010: 10:16 AM EST

A study of the current federal system for defining and regulating organic foods, especially the review process used to add or remove nonorganic substances from the “National List,” finds it flawed. According to the study, the review and petition process does not support development of organic alternatives and may actually be a hindrance. The study recommends a simpler, more efficient process for approving substances for use in organic foods. It’s an urgent situation: as the multi-ingredient organic food sector continues to grow, USDA’s National Organic Program will be faced with more complex issues. According to the researchers, it might be better if the NOP, for example, were to “incentivize the development of organic ingredients and processes by setting clear guidelines and deadlines and providing development support to food manufacturers.”

Debra Van Camp, et al., "The Paradox of Organic Ingredients", Institute of Food Technologists, November 15, 2010, © Institute of Food Technologists
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Company’s Biodegradable Packaging To Be Used In U.K. Retailers Chocolate Boxes

November 14, 2010: 09:22 AM EST

British retailer Marks & Spencer’s entire Swiss chocolate range will be sold this Christmas in biodegradable plastic trays developed by Australian company Plantic Technologies. The innovative bioplastic, also called plantic, is manufactured using starch, is 100 percent compostable and dissolves completely in running water. Plantic, founded in 2003, has sales offices in Germany, Britain and the U.S., and employs about 50 people worldwide. The global biodegradable plastic packaging market is estimated by a British analyst to be worth $1.6 billion this year. However, the recession and falling oil prices have left the plastics market in a shambles. Plantic's shares on London's tech-oriented AIM exchange dropped sharply, from 80 pence to seven, but a plan is now underway to take the company’s stock private.

John Mangan, "Fantastic as plastic gets organic", The Age, November 14, 2010, © Fairfax Media
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Sustainability Remains A Priority Among Packaging Makers, Retailers

November 11, 2010: 09:37 PM EST

Eco-friendly packaging has become a major trend among packaging manufacturers, consumer products manufacturers and retailers who are working together to promote cost-effective sustainability, even in a sagging economy. For example, the customers of a company that distributes organic foods like Silk soy milk are keenly aware of fair labor and trade practices, food miles, the environmental impact of products, and package recyclability, so the company keeps this criteria in mind when making procurement decisions. Even troubled companies like Winn-Dixie have kept sustainability a priority, relying on suppliers to maintain green standards. An executive at Winn-Dixie says financial condition shouldn’t stand in the way of principles: “It is finding the niche in which, relative to your space, you can play a role in sustainability, that makes the right sense for a business model.”

Dan Hockensmith, "Experts say sustainability remains a dominant trend in packaging", PLASTICS NEWS, November 11, 2010, © Crain Communications Inc
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Organic Soups From Fig Foods Now Available At Whole Foods Market

November 11, 2010: 09:17 PM EST

U.S. organic food producer Fig Food Company says it is now offering its organic soups in the U.S. via Whole Foods Markets and other natural food stores. Ingredients for the soups, which are certified organic and kosher, come primarily from North American farms, the company says. The company offers four shelf-stable ready-to-eat varieties (Tuscan White Bean, Umbrian Lentil, Yucatan Black Bean, Gran Farro e Fagioli) and three condensed varieties (Tomato, Wheatberry and Split Pea). The company’s mission is to provide healthy plant-based foods that contribute to fossil fuel independence and a reduction of greenhouse gases. The company plans to expand beyond soups to other ready-to-eat meals in the future.

"Fig Food(TM) Company Brings Delicious Heart Healthy Soups to U.S. Consumers", News release, Fig Food Company, November 11, 2010, © Fig Food Company
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U.S. Organic Food Market One Of The Fastest Growing Industries

November 12, 2010: 06:16 AM EST

A report, “US Organic Food Market Analysis,” says that the U.S. organic food market has been one of the fastest growing industries, with average annual growth of 16%-21% in 2000-2008. As the world’s biggest economy, with one of the highest per capita incomes, the U.S. has the ingredients for the organic food market to expand and flourish, with compound annual growth rate forecast at 13% in 2010-2014. Rising awareness about environmental protection, food safety, health, and animal welfare are some of the factors that drive market growth. Government support and the growing demand for organic and natural products are pushing further the growth of the organic niche for the food and beverages industry.

"US Organic Food Market Analysis", Research and Markets, November 12, 2010, © Research and Markets
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Huge Greenhouse Taking Shape Atop Two-Storey Office Building In Montreal

November 11, 2010: 09:22 PM EST

Construction of a 31,000-square-foot commercial greenhouse atop a two-story office building in Montreal, Canada, is almost finished. Developers of the project say planting could begin in January and the first harvest reaped six weeks after that. Urban farming, including rooftop gardening, are not a new phenomenon, but the large scale of the Montreal project sets it apart from previous efforts. The idea is to provide fresh produce for the community all year long, regardless of weather conditions. One of the entrepreneurs working on the project says food shipped thousands of miles is handled at many stages. The shipping affects taste and freshness. "Our goal simply is to be a neighborhood food source and raise the bar on the issue of traceability,” he says.

Leslie Guevarra, "A Vision for a Commercial-Scale Rooftop 'Farm' Nears Completion", GreenBiz, November 11, 2010, © GreenBiz Group
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Organic Private Labels Outgrow Organic Food Brands; The Future For Organic?

November 11, 2010: 07:16 AM EST

Retailer organic private labels are growing faster than organic brands in the international organic food market, perhaps indicating the future for organic food. In the US, for example, Safeway’s private label, O Organics, launched in 2005, looks set to become the leading brand of organic foods. O Organics has over 300 organic products with sales in excess of $400 million. While in Germany, a drugstore’s private label is the leading brand of organic & natural cosmetics.  Retailers are pushing a price advantage and often their organic products are cheaper than conventional ones.  As private labels increase their share of the organic market organic brands must revise their branding strategies. Green & Black for instance, has positioned itself as an ethical brand, while Organic Valley, in the US, increasingly positions itself as a supporter of family farms and a proponent of sustainability.

"The Future of Organic Products: Brands of Retailer Private Labels?", Organic Monitor, November 11, 2010, © Organic Monitor
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Grant Will Support Research Into Better Safety Procedures For Organic Leafy Greens

November 10, 2010: 11:39 AM EST

As U.S. food producers turn more to certified organic farming systems for a variety of reasons, they need better methods of ensuring the safety and post-harvest quality of organic leafy greens, including spinach, lettuce, arugula, cabbage and radicchio. The USDA is expediting the search for better safety methods with a $2.9 million grant to a University of Arizona researcher whose  comprehensive project will examine every step in the process, from field to fork. Since the late 1990s, U.S. organic production has grown steadily, the USDA says: more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers now buy organic products at least occasionally; 28 percent buy organic products weekly. The researchers will look at ways to eliminate bacterial – especially E. coli and salmonella – contamination in bagged leafy greens using organic methods.

Daniel Stolte, "Improving safety and quality of organic leafy greens", News release, University of Arizona, November 10, 2010, © Univ. of Arizona
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Consumers Need To Be Wary Of Egg Cartons Stamped “USDA Organic”

November 10, 2010: 03:01 AM EST

A new, large egg recall may push consumers toward organic eggs to avoid contamination, but the Cornucopia Institute is warning consumers that what they see on the egg carton – the “USDA organic” label – may not be what they get. According to the Institute, many cartons so labeled come from big agribusiness farms that distribute mass produced eggs from warehoused chickens. The Institute says the hen houses of fraudulent producers are packed with birds. A door at the end of the facility is not useable by the chickens, but the companies sell their products as "free range," skirting USDA guidelines. “The chickens are never let out to graze or be in sunlight,” the Institute said. The birds are force-fed commercial chicken feed and injected with antibiotics or vaccines with toxins, violating organic rules.

"Egg Recalls Push More Consumers Toward 'Organic;" But Watch Out", News release, Cornucopia Institute, November 10, 2010, © Cornucopia Institute
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Curb Launches Natural Grass As Indoor Advertising Medium

November 10, 2010: 01:44 AM EST

In a sign of the growing eco-awareness in advertising, U.K.-based natural advertising media vendor Curb has launched its DesignGrass, a natural grass that can be used as an indoor advertising medium. The grass is flexible and can be formed into various shapes, patterns, brands, or words. Good for creating indoor green spaces, users can install DesignGrass on surfaces including walls and ceilings. Another product, the FlexiGrass offers functionality as a soilless living carpet for both indoor and outdoor environments. Requiring minimal, FlexiGrass can be molded, shaped, and colored based on users’ requirements.

"Living Grass as a Low-impact, Indoor Advertising Medium", Springwise, November 10, 2010, © Springwise
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Fairtrade Organization Rebuts Critical Report From IEA

November 9, 2010: 03:05 AM EST

The Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International has issued a rebuttal to a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs that FLO feels was incorrect on several points. The IEA, for example, was wrong to imply that Fairtrade offers no long-term strategy for development. Certified organic cotton farmers in Mali earn 50 percent more than conventional farmers, allowing almost all (95 percent) of their children to attend school, which contributes to long-term growth. Fairtrade does focus on the poorest countries: forty-seven percent of the 870,000 small scale farmers in the system are in East Africa. FLO acknowledged that certification costs money – about $1,570 for 50 farmers – but cost is not a barrier to certification. The Producer Certification Fund covers up to 75 percent of the fee for eligible organizations.

"Fairtrade Responds to the Institute of Economic Affairs Report", News release, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, November 09, 2010, © Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International
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Syntroleum-Tyson Foods Joint Venture Turns Animal Fats Into Renewable Fuels

November 8, 2010: 03:41 AM EST

Dynamic Fuels LLC, an equal-share joint venture of Syntroleum Corporation and Tyson Foods, Inc., began commercial operations at its plant, which uses Syntroleum’s Bio-Synfining technology to convert non-food grade animal fats and greases into renewable fuels. The new facility produces 2,500 barrels of fuels per day from animal fats produced or acquired by Tyson Foods. Designed to manufacture as much as 75 million gallons of renewable fuels per year, the plant employs 44 full-time workers on site and 13 start-up support staff. The plant started shipping renewable diesel that meets ASTM D975 specifications in October, and has begun producing jet fuel for testing by the Air Force Research Laboratory. Dynamic Fuels hopes that Congress will restore tax credits, which could help improve the plant’s financial feasibility.

Tyson Foods, "First U.S. Commercial Scale Advanced Biofuels Plant Opens", Tyson Foods press release, November 08, 2010, © Tyson Foods, Inc.
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Chocolate Industry Faces Serious Shortage of Cocoa Supply, Sharply Higher Prices

November 8, 2010: 05:00 AM EST

Industry analysts are warning that the chocolate industry faces a cocoa shortage and much steeper prices as chocolate consumption increases faster than cocoa production, which faces serious headwinds. African cocoa farmers are abandoning their farms due to negligible returns, a problem compounded by soil depletion. Meanwhile, a change in weather systems has hit crops in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest cocoa producer.  As cocoa supplies declined, prices have risen, doubling in the last six years, a trend set to continue. John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, forecasts that “In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it."

Anthea Gerrie, "Chocolate: Worth its weight in gold?", Telegraph.co.uk, November 08, 2010, © independent.co.uk
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Sustainable Packaging Grows Much Faster Than Rest Of Global Packaging Market

November 8, 2010: 01:54 AM EST

The market worldwide for sustainable packaging is growing much faster than the rest of the packaging industry. A recent report by Pike Research forecasts the environment-friendly packaging market to double in size from $88 billion in 2009 to $170 billion in 2014, while Global Industry Analysts predicts the market to reach $142 billion by 2015 despite the economic slowdown. Factors driving the market include growing awareness about environmental impact of packaging wastes and government rules and initiatives seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Europe and the U.S. account for over 70% of the world sustainable packaging market, with recycled material as its largest category; and biodegradables, the fastest-growing segment. EL Insights forecasts sustainable packaging will be used in 37% of products sold by big U.S. retailers by 2015.

"Quick growth of green packaging market", enorm_magazin , November 08, 2010, © enorm magazine
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Detergent Manufacturers in Australia Face Campaign To Remove Phosphate From Their Products

November 7, 2010: 12:52 AM EST

Australian environmentalist Jon Dee, via his organization Do Something!, plans to launch a countrywide campaign calling on retailers Coles and Woolworths to prompt manufacturers Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser to reduce the phosphate content of their laundry powders and dishwasher tablets. Popular detergent brands being sold in Australia contain high levels of phosphate, which is being removed from detergents in markets overseas due to their negative impact on waterways, such as promotion of algal blooms. The U.S. and the European Union have announced policies for stricter control of phosphate in detergent products. Phosphate, which helps break down dirt, is regulated through the Phosphorus Standard managed by the ACCORD industry group that counts Unilever, Colgate, and Reckitt Benckiser as members.

Tim Barlass , "Call to clean up our detergents", Sydney Morning Herald, November 07, 2010, © Fairfax Media
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Walmart To Launch Sustainable Farming Initiatives And Looks To Iowa Farmers For Ideas

November 7, 2010: 02:47 AM EST

Walmart plans to launch initiatives that will promote sustainable, environment-friendly agriculture and double sales of locally grown food by 2015. Seeking to improve soil quality and conserve water and fossil fuels, the retailer has visited farms in Iowa to learn about sustainable farming practices that it could incorporate into its programs. Agriculture groups are closely watching the company’s efforts, which, considering the company’s leadership role in retail, can have significant implications for the country’s farming sector. Meanwhile, environmentalists and sustainability proponents want to know whether Walmart will go far enough with its proposed sustainable-farming standards, which are being developed through the Sustainability Consortium, an organization that counts several agribusiness companies as members. Ultimately, Walmart wants to develop a means of measuring products’ impact on the environment, which would help guide consumers in choosing sustainable goods.

PHILIP BRASHER, "Walmart wants Iowans to farm by its principles ", The Des Moines Register, November 07, 2010, © The Des Moines Register
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Organic Farming Research Group Launches In-Depth Study Of The State Of Organic Agriculture

November 5, 2010: 10:28 AM EST

A nonprofit organization that sponsors organic farming research has launched a broad research effort to examine all of the possible benefits of organic agriculture. The Organic Farming Research Foundation says it has hired a team of researchers that plans to release findings in the spring of 2011. Initially, researchers will scour existing scientific literature and analyze data. Research leaders include Carolyn Dmitri, a former USDA economist who will review the scientific literature, and Loni Kemp, an agriculture policy analyst who will synthesize results and make policy recommendations. The researchers also hope to identify gaps in research on organic farming that might point to future studies. “The time is right for a comprehensive assessment of the state of organic research and policy regarding the benefits of organic production,” Dimitri said.

"OFRF To Compile Science On Organic Farming Benefits", The Organic Farming Research Foundation, November 05, 2010, © The Organic Farming Research Foundation
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Pepsi Wins Accolades With Corporate Social Responsibility Program

November 5, 2010: 04:13 AM EST

A consumer survey by Edelman finds that Pepsi is ranked the #1 brand that places at least as much importance on a good cause as on making a profit.  In explaining this achievement, PepsiCo Americas Beverages communications director Melisa Tezanos, underlines the importance of the corporate banner ,"Performance with Purpose," and also the company’s Pepsi Refresh Project corporate social responsibility program, which aims to “empower people to put their great ideas into action.”  The Pepsi Refresh website (www.RefreshEverything.com) has achieved over 2.8 billion media impressions, with more than 50 million votes cast and more than 4.3 million registered as voters. Tezanos is enthusiastic about the program and indicates that Pepsi plans to roll it out globally in 2011.

"Pepsi exec dishes on Pepsi Refresh, future plans for cause marketing", USA Today, November 05, 2010, © USA Today
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Whole Foods Posts 15% Sales Growth In Fourth Quarter; Raises Outlook

November 5, 2010: 01:19 AM EST

In the quarter to September 26, 2010, Whole Foods Market Inc., posted a 15-percent increase in sales and surpassed the $2 billion mark. Same-store sales growth increased 8.7 percent in the quarter, demonstrating that overall growth was not just attributable to adding stores. Co-CEO John Mackey, said the company's performance outpaced expectations and praised the company's relative pricing; he also pointed to the company’s efforts to reinforce its position as a leader in the healthy and organic foods market with initiatives focused on “healthy eating, animal welfare and sustainable seafood.” The company opened one store in the quarter to give a total of 301 and expects to open three more in Q1 2011.

Ken Black, "Whole Foods Market Reports Fourth Quarter Results", Whole Foods, November 05, 2010, © Whole Foods Market IP, L.P.
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Dutch Palm Oil Industry Promises Commitment To Sustainable Production

November 4, 2010: 07:52 AM EST

Noting that it is “committed to making worldwide palm oil production more sustainable,” the Dutch palm oil industry has issued a “manifesto” to the government proclaiming that all palm oil used in The Netherlands will be certified according to RSPO principles and criteria by 2015. Demand for palm oil is rising worldwide due to growing prosperity in China and India and increased use in biofuels. The result is expansion of oil palm plantation areas in producing countries and potential reduction of tropical rainforest. The eight industry groups that are party to the manifesto  represent palm oil refiners, processors and retail firms that market palm oil-based products, such as processed foods (e.g., margarine, ice cream and biscuits), cosmetics and personal care products (e.g., soap and lipstick), and biodiesel. 

"Manifesto of the Task Force Sustainable Palm Oil Initiative to promote the use of RSPO certified palm oil in the Netherlands", Task Force for Sustainable Palm Oil, November 04, 2010, © The Dutch Task Force Sustainable Palm Oil
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Organic Produce Prospers On U.S. East, West Coasts

November 4, 2010: 07:43 AM EST

America’s heartland – the vast Midwest – is apparently the only dead spot in the otherwise prosperous organic produce industry. East Coast growers are flourishing and Northern California’s organic growers are doing well, with some posting double-digit annual growth as high as 20 percent. According to the Organic Trade Association, the slack economy hasn’t dampened the overall growth rate: organic sales increased 5.1 percent in 2009 and now account for more than 11 percent of nationwide produce sales. Berries and bananas are driving growth, according to the OTA. Year-on-year sales of Chiquita organic bananas rose more than 25 percent, the company says. Industry observers cite public concern for health issues, increased interest in local and sustainable agriculture and less inclination to spend money on expensive electronic gadgets as reasons for organic prosperity.

Tom Burfield, "Organic produce sales strong everywhere but Midwest", The Packer, November 04, 2010, © Vance Publishing Corporation
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U.K.’s Organic Food Organization To Launch Ad Campaign To Dispel Myths, Boost Sales

November 3, 2010: 11:08 AM EST

The U.K.’s  Organic Trade Board (OTB) is launching a three-year advertising campaign in January to get the word out on the benefits of buying organic food, whose sales fell 13 percent in 2009. The Board has hired the Haygarth agency to help it “democratize” organic food, broaden its appeal and hopefully boost sales through a new Web site, public relations, online ads and social media. According to a spokesperson for the OTB, the goal of the ad campaign is to “break down the myths … that organic is fancy food for posh people.”

Rosie Baker, " Organic food body readies campaign to revive sales", Marketing Week, UK, November 03, 2010, © Centaur Media plc
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Indonesia’s Organic Certification System Leaves Something To Be Desired

November 1, 2010: 07:33 AM EST

Indonesian shoppers are caught up in the trend toward healthier diets, and that often means switching to organic foods. But the search for certified organic products can be confusing because the country’s certification system is not airtight, and is therefore not particularly reliable. One organic food expert in Indonesia says the problem is due to the fact that the government doesn’t require food suppliers to have their products certified organic. The certification process began as voluntary, permitting suppliers to make whatever organic claims they wanted. However,  the government later introduced a system that involved seven official certifying bodies. Farmers, traders and suppliers submit products to these certification authorities. It’s a process that’s too expensive for small farmers, however, and lends itself to corruption.

Ika Krismantari, "Organic tag confuses buyers, sellers", The Jakarta Post, November 01, 2010, © PT Bina Media Tenggara
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Big Retailers, Club Stores Post Big Sales In The Organic Food Sector

October 30, 2010: 11:06 AM EST

Despite tough economic times, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages were $26.6 billion in 2009, 5.1 percent higher than in 2008, according to the Organic Trade Association. The performance indicates that Americans are striking a balance between healthy eating and unhealthy spending. That’s a lot of organic food purchasing, and the volume is due at least in part to the fact that traditional supermarkets, club stores and mass merchandisers are showing increased sales. Those stores – Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Costco, etc. – accounted for 54 percent of the organic food sold in 2009, followed by natural retailers at 38 percent. Industry observers believe the retailers are doing well in organic sales because of their reputation for competitive pricing.

Jennifer Strailey, "Making Waves in Natural and Organic", Progressive Grocer, October 30, 2010, © Stagnito Media
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Premium Chocolate Makers Are Committed To Quality And Green Sourcing

October 30, 2010: 11:01 AM EST

High end Swiss and French chocolatiers are turning out luxury chocolates using cocoa beans produced organically around the world, demonstrating a commitment to both quality and ethical sourcing. Swiss chocolate maker Bonnat, for example, pioneered the use of organic cocoa beans out of principle 17 years ago, and now works with 35 certified organic suppliers in South America who are paid premium prices for their product. According to Stephane Bonnat, 80 percent of cocoa growers are de facto organic – because they cannot afford fertilizers or pesticides – but are not certified because the process is too expensive.  Another chocolatier says using ethically sourced cocoa beans is expensive, adding 20 percent to production costs. But the result is high quality chocolate – and significant financial and lifestyle gains for the farmers.

"Master chocolatiers give green cocoa a boost", The Independent, October 30, 2010, © Independent Print Limited
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To Counter Demand Weakness Organic Farmers Told To Stress Sustainability

October 22, 2010: 10:13 PM EST

According to Patrick Holden, retired director of the Soil Association, recent faltering demand for organic produce is due to a number of factors: negative reactions from traditional farmers, PR campaigns against organic, consumers’ perceptions of exclusivity, a lack of understanding of the benefits of organic agriculture, and the impact of the weak economy shifting purchases to lower-cost items. Instead of stressing ‘organic’, Holden argues that suppliers emphasize ‘sustainable agriculture’ and ‘sustainability’ that he sees as a more attractive and enduring message.

Barry Alston, "Organic farmers 'must improve image' - Holden", Farmers Guardian, UK, October 22, 2010, © UBM Information Ltd
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Research Assesses Impact Of Climate Change On Food Safety And Availability Of Healthy Food In Britain

October 21, 2010: 12:08 PM EST

Research conducted by the U.K.’s University of East Anglia for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that decreased food availability will lead to higher prices and push consumers towards processed foods with higher sugar and fat content. The researchers believe that the FSA, which is charged with protecting the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food, will have to boost efforts to encourage healthier eating including using nutritional surveys and enhanced monitoring. While the researchers point to the need for additional work on a number of fronts to better understand likely upcoming changes and the impact on food supply, they also suggest that increased pathogens and additional food-borne disease and other changing risks will intensify unpredictability and require broader oversight to isolate new risks. 

Dr Iain Lake, Dr Asmaa Abdelhamid, Dr Lee Hooper, "Food and Climate change: A review of the effects of climate change on food within the remit of the Food Standards Agency", Food Standards Agency, October 21, 2010, © Food Standards Agency
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New ‘Replenish’ Line Hopes To Deliver A More Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning Product Using Concentrate Pods That Consumers Dilute

October 19, 2010: 02:45 AM EST

In the continuing trend to deliver traditional products in more environmentally sensitive ways, Replenish has launched a new line of surface cleaners that relies on consumers diluting a concentrate solution. Replenish sells pods that contain cleaner concentrate along with a specially designed reusable spray bottle into which the pod fits; consumers add water to obtain a traditional strength cleaning spray. The company sells the reusable bottle and the initial pod for $7.99 and each pod, which is enough for four bottles of cleaner, for $3.99, compared to about $4.00 for a single bottle of Windex.

"Replenish Cleaning Products: You Provide the Water (And Help Save the Earth)", Fast Co Design, October 19, 2010, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Demand For Greener Packaging Expected To Drive Growth In Bioplastics

October 18, 2010: 02:36 AM EST

A growing demand for environment-friendly packaging and products is expected to drive the world’s bioplastics industry to grow 30% a year in the coming decade, although plastics made from plant material currently represents just 0.2% of all plastic consumed each year . Biomass is used to replace petroleum products in the manufacture of plastics, reducing demand for fossil fuels and improving biodegradability. Some chemical companies, such as BASF in Germany, are expanding bioplastics capacity to meet the expected demand from consumer goods manufacturers like Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson Inc., both of which have switched to plant-based resins for packaging some of their brands. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are also exploring applications for bioplastics. While environmentalists in general support renewable energy initiatives, they have some reservations about biodegradable plastics, which still go into landfill. Bioplastics are also generally still more expensive than traditional plastics, and the chemical companies are relying on some consumers being willing to pay more for greener options. A return to very high oil prices will also make bioplastics more competitive.

MARA LEMOS STEIN and NAUREEN S. MALIK , "Just One Word: Bioplastics ", Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2010, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Growth In Organic Food Demand Provides Opportunities For Women Farmers

October 14, 2010: 10:35 AM EST

With Canadian farming characterized by highly-mechanized, high-yield, large-scale farms, the growth in demand for organic good is providing opportunities for women to become more involved in what has become a male-dominated industry. Although women have played a key part in family farming businesses, they often didn’t get the recognition they deserved, and their role has decreased as farm sizes increased. Today, 30 percent of organic farmers are women. They seem better suited to smaller-scale farming: they are less focused on yield and profit, and more focused on the community and family health. According to one female organic farmer, women are changing the face of farming in Canada, with a long-term perspective that recognizes food needs to be produced sustainably.

Mary Teresa Bitti, "Taking the lead - Women drawn by organic farming focus on healthy food, healthy communities", Edmonton Journal, October 14, 2010, © Postmedia Network Inc
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Wal-Mart’s Massive Global Food Business To Add More Local Sustainable Food

October 14, 2010: 03:22 AM EST

As part of its five-year global effort to shrink the company’s environmental footprint, the world’s biggest retail grocer will buy 9 percent of its U.S. produce from local, sustainably-run farms; an increase of 100 percent. Considering that Wal-Mart’s food business represents a large proportion of its $400 million annual sales, this move has significant consequences for U.S. farmers located in states where Wal-Mart operates. To further its sustainability impact, the retail giant plans to evaluate the production and shipping efficiencies of large suppliers and help small (under 50 acres) and mid-size farmers, particularly in emerging economies, to build more ecologically-aware operations. Part of the commitment includes selling $1 billion of produce from one million farms. In addition, Wal-Mart will spend over $1 billion to address spoilage and reduce waste by 10 percent in the U.S., expecting to improve profitability for itself and suppliers, and it has announced sustainable sourcing initiatives for palm oil and beef. Despite reservations from some, experts say that Wal-Mart’s plans will significantly advance local and global sustainability.

STEPHANIE CLIFFORD, "Wal-Mart to Buy More Local Produce", New York Times , October 14, 2010, © The New York Times Company
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Online Store Abe’s Market Uses Producer Stories To Sell Natural Products

October 13, 2010: 10:54 AM EST

Start-up organic product aggregator, Abe’s Market, opened last year using a seemingly contradictory concept: use personal, local-feeling merchant profiles and stories to add the ‘farmers-market-like’ sensation to buying online. Online sales reached $155 billion last year but are soulless and devoid of human contact. At the same time, farmers markets are rising in popularity, with their number doubling in the last decade.  Abe’s Market hopes to bridge the gap with high-touch merchandizing and personal stories. Its business model relies on specialization – separating manufacturing from distribution – and charging its merchants, many of whom have their own online stores, a 30% fee. Revenues, so far, are unremarkable but angel investor, Toby Coppel, believes Abe’s buyers are “passionate about organic and natural products and want to connect with the people behind the products.”

JESSICA BRUDER, "Turning Business Owners Into Stars of Their Own Stories", The New York Times, October 13, 2010, © The New York Times
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Kimberly-Clark Launches Smart Flush To Save Water

October 11, 2010: 02:17 AM EST

Seeking to raise public awareness of how wasteful toilet flushing is and to help consumers do their part for water conservation, Kimberly-Clark launched the Smart Flush bag, a device that inflates when put inside a toilet tank, cutting the volume of water used in each flush by as much as one liter. Praised by retailers for letting consumers join water conservation efforts easily, the device is given for free exclusively to buyers of 8-pack and 12-pack Scott Naturals bath tissues, which contain 40% recycled fiber and packaged using recycled plastic.

Julie Gallagher, "Paper Products Update", Supermarket News, October 11, 2010, © Penton Media, Inc.
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Study Shows At Least 83 Percent Of U.K. Shoppers Have Concerns About Buying Organic

October 8, 2010: 10:07 AM EST

Research indicates that organic food marketers in the U.K. have an opportunity to convert a significant part of the population if they can address perceptions of high cost and low value-added. U.K. shoppers see two primary issues with purchasing organic goods: the first is high cost, an issue for 58 percent of respondents in a recent study conducted by YouGov SixthSense. The second, identified by another 25 percent, is lack of a comparative advantage over non-organic foods. A researcher involved in the study points to the reality that, “many organic lines are coming down in price, and in some cases are equal to, or cheaper than standard branded products.” The small percentage (13%) that buy organic exclusively include well-off, urban, females over 25 who own homes, are single, and well-educated.

YouGov SixthSense and Stephen O'Connor, "Overpriced organics", YouGov SixthSense report, October 08, 2010, © YouGov
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Walmart Works With Worldwise To Recycle Waste Materials Into Green Pet Products

October 7, 2010: 01:21 AM EST

Walmart is launching a program with green pet products maker Worldwise, Inc., that will turn Walmart’s salvageable waste materials – including plastic bottles, bags, cardboard, and hangers – into pet products sold in Walmart stores. Recycled products that will hit the shelves this month include dog beds made from bottles, cat scratchers from cardboard and litter pans from hangers. Walmart’s sustainability goals include a commitment to “creating zero waste,” according to a senior executive, and “the closed loop partnership with Worldwise is a perfect example of how retailers and suppliers can cooperate to innovate and achieve greater sustainability.” Worldwise says its efforts will keep the equivalent of more than 100 million 16.9 oz. plastic bottles out of landfills, about 25 million of which will come from Walmart and Sam's Clubs.

"Trend Towards More Sustainable Products Gets Boost With New Worldwise-Walmart Partnership", PRNewswire, October 07, 2010, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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More Companies Join the March for Sustainable Packaging

October 7, 2010: 01:34 AM EST

A new report by the Global Industry Analysts, Inc., forecasts the world’s sustainable packaging market to reach US$142.42 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Packaging Alliance says that packaging can only be considered sustainable if it satisfies these four criteria: socially and economically beneficial; efficient use of materials, energy, and water; cyclic or recyclable through industrial or natural systems; and safe or non-polluting and non-toxic. While a survey by Procter & Gamble Professional showed that companies favor environmental responsibility but are confused over how to go about it, several leading businesses, such as Apple, Boeing, Chevrolet, Clorox, Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, and HBO, are doing their shares to promote environment-friendly business practices.

Hayden Norris, "Green Branding Watch: Boeing, Apple, P&G and more", Eco Institution, October 07, 2010, © Green Consulting
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Walmart Brings Mexican, Central American Suppliers Up-To-Date On Eco-Goals

October 7, 2010: 01:15 AM EST

Walmart’s recent two-day forum for Mexican and Central American suppliers outlined the giant retailer’s plans for reducing its environmental impact in those regions. The retailer’s long-term commitment to support eco-friendly best practices includes three long-term global objectives: to create zero waste, to use 100 percent renewable energy, and to sell products that sustain the environment. In Mexico, for example, the company’s first wind energy facility provides energy to 348 Walmart Mexico stores. Walmart hopes that, by the end of 2015, it will: limit greenhouse gas emissions growth to half the rate of sales floor expansion, reduce energy consumption by 13 percent (over 2009 levels), recycle or reuse 80 percent of waste, reuse 60 percent of treated water, and reduce all water consumption by 30 percent.

"For Walmart Mexico, Sustainability Is a Group Effort", TreeHugger.com, October 07, 2010, © TreeHugger.com
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Roundup-Treated GM Foods Linked To Cause Birth Defects and Cancer

October 6, 2010: 09:13 AM EST

Scientific studies show that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide, is linked to high increases in reproductive problems and early childhood health issues. Of particular concern is the use of Roundup on 90% of the soy crops in North America, along with growing usage in South American crop production. Soy, frequently used in infant formula and by nursing mothers, may be linked to a 300% increase in childhood cancer and a 400% increase in birth defects in Argentina over the last decade.  Advocacy groups want countries to mandate proper labeling and force retailers to pull products contaminated by genetic modification, especially baby formula, from their shelves.

Josette Dunn, "GM soy linked to birth defects, cancer: new study", AFN, October 06, 2010
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Frito-Lay Drops Noisy Biodegradable Chip Bags After Consumer Complaints

October 6, 2010: 10:20 AM EST

Frito-Lay’s implementation of its commitment to eco-friendly packaging has backfired. Biodegradable bags for multigrain Sun Chips, released to stores in January, have been pulled from the market because of consumer complaints on social Web sites and elsewhere that the bags are too noisy. The discontent with the new bags has driven down sales, as consumers have shied away from purchasing them. Meanwhile, Frito-Lay continues to look for a quieter variety of compostable packaging. "We chose to respond to the consumer feedback but still want to show that we are committed" to compostable packaging, a company spokesman said.

Suzanee Vranica, "Sun Chips Bag to Lose Its Crunch", The Wall Street Journal, October 06, 2010, © Dow Jones & Company
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Gardens Sprout Up Among Independent Restaurants As Part Of “Eat Local” Movement

October 5, 2010: 09:57 AM EST

The National Restaurant Association says a third of 2,000 members polled recently said they have signed on to the “eat local food” movement by planting gardens to produce their own vegetables. The poll results suggest that restaurant gardens are a hot trend in the restaurant industry and is likely to gather steam, because growing produce costs restaurants less than buying it and having it shipped, gives them more quality control and allows them to use locally grown foods. An NRA representative said independent restaurants are more likely to plant gardens because they have more seasonal menu flexibility. Most start small, growing a few basics, but then expand. A restaurant in Michigan, for example, eventually tripled the size of its garden, expanding from tomatoes to include squash, peppers, etc.

Michael J. Crumb (AP), "Chefs name gardens top restaurant trend of 2010", Associated Press (via Yahoo!), October 05, 2010, © The Associated Press
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Sustainable Foods Linked With Superfoods Among Consumers - Report

October 5, 2010: 09:45 AM EST

An increasing consumer demand for products that can provide functional solutions to their health needs and help them live lifestyles that are more eco-friendly are two key trends driving  the global food and drinks industry, according to a report from market research clearinghouse Reportlinker. Sixty-five percent of industry respondents said consumers interested in sustainable foods are also likely to be interested in superfoods, indicating that the two trends share many of the same drivers. Sustainable superfoods were considered most relevant in the bakery and cereals, dairy foods, ready meals and soft drinks categories. Nestlé and Unilever headed the sustainability list, though other global brands were further down. Nestlé is the market leader for positive health claims by a significant margin, followed by Kraft and Danone.

"Reportlinker Adds Growth Opportunities in Sustainable and Positive Health Food and Drinks: Key Innovations, Leading Company Strategies and How to Benefit From Overlap of Ethical and Superfoods Overlap", PRNewswire, October 05, 2010, © PRNewswire
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Court Says Ohio Must Require Food Labels To Disclose Synthetic Hormones

September 30, 2010: 11:42 AM EST

A federal appellate court has invalidated several provisions in Ohio Dept. of Agriculture organic food rules that, according to the Organic Trade Association, cramped consumers’ and producers’ ability to get truthful label information about the use of synthetic hormones in organic milk and dairy products. Organic farmers who want to apply the organic label to their products are barred from using synthetic growth hormones, genetically engineered organisms (GMOs), antibiotics and toxic, persistent, synthetic pesticides. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with the OTA and a dairy farmers group that consumers in Ohio have the right to know whether purpotedly organic products on grocery store shelves are produced without synthetic growth hormones.

"Organic dairy products produced free from synthetic growth hormones- Consumers Win Right to Know", News release, Organic Trade Association , September 30, 2010, © Organic Trade Association
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Worried About Fluoride In Toothpaste? Natural Herbal Alternatives Abound

October 1, 2010: 03:24 AM EST

Natural, herbal-based products for oral health that avoid dubious non-natural ingredients have been added to the arsenal of traditional weapons against tooth decay and gum disease. Examples of undesirable ingredients in standard oral care products include fluoride, the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate and artificial colors and flavors. While accepted as safe, some health care providers say excessive use of fluoride among children causes fluorosis – brown spots or streaks on teeth. A variety of natural alternatives are available, product providers say. Ancient ayurvedic herbs provide astringent and antibacterial action, without fluoride. Other options include the popular antiseptic tea tree oil, neem tree bark, and the antibacterial sweetener xylitol. Some products contribute to dental nutrition by including coenzyme Q10 with perilla seed oil, vitamin C and blue-green algae.

Steve Myers , "The Natural Mouth", Natural Products Marketplace, October 01, 2010, © Virgo Publishing, LLC.
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