Handling Specialty Foods

Organic and natural products put logistics and distribution providers to the test.


Indeed, business is good for Nature’s Best. The company opened its newest distribution center opened this past spring in Flower Mound, TX, outside of Dallas. Together with their California facility, Nature’s Best delivers refrigerated, bulk, supplements, personal care, herbs, medicinal, pet, and other products to 11 western states.

Meanwhile, the future remains bright for the U.S. organic industry. A recent study by the Organic Trade Association shows that U.S. sales hit a new high of $31.5 billion in 2011, with $29.22 billion comprised of organic food and beverage sales and $2.2 billion made up of organic non-food product sales.

According to the industry group, the easing of the recession, consumer price inflation due to input price increases, and consumers’ increasing desire for convenience products were all factors that helped drive growth last year. The fastest growing segment in the organic food sector was the meat, fish, and poultry category, which posted a 13 percent gain over 2010 sales.

“Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns,” commented Christine Bushway, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association. “For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose.”

Organic food sales now represent 4.2 percent of all U.S. food sales, up from 4 percent in 2010. The Organic Trade Association forecasts that organic food and nonfood sales will continue to sustain growth of 9 percent or higher.

 

FAQs from the National Organic Program

What is Organic?

Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

 

How Are Organic Products Overseen?

The National Organic Program regulates all organic crops, livestock, and agricultural products certified to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards. Organic certification agencies inspect and verify that organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors, and traders are complying with the USDA organic regulations.

USDA conducts audits and ensures that the more than 90 organic certification agencies operating around the world are properly certifying organic products. In addition, USDA conducts investigations and conducts enforcement activities to ensure all products labeled as organic meet the USDA organic regulations. In order to sell, label, or represent their products as organic, operations must follow all of the specifications set out by the USDA organic regulations.

 

How Do I Know if Food Is Organic?

Look at the label. If you see the USDA organic seal, the product is certified organic and has 95 percent or more organic content. For multi-ingredient products such as bread or soup, if the label claims that it is made with specified organic ingredients, you can be confident that those specific ingredients have been certified organic.

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