Consumers are becoming savvy to the fact that products certified as non-G.M.O. come with strict compliance guidelines.
Organic vs. non-G.M.O.
By definition, organic-certified foods are non-G.M.O., which is an attraction to the category. Sales of organic foods continue to grow and currently about 5% of all food sold in the United States is organic, according to the Organic Trade Association, Washington. Historically most of this has come from perimeter departments in retail stores, as it is easy for shoppers to make the connection between agricultural practices used in the field and fresh, perishable foods. However, as consumers increasingly crave convenience, they are looking beyond these departments to the packaged and prepared foods aisles for organic offerings.
The challenge is sourcing ingredients, as the U.S.D.A. requires certified organic products to have at least 95% organic ingredients to carry the official organic seal. There is an approved National List of allowed non-organically produced agricultural-based ingredients for use in organic-certified foods. A number of essential ingredients for many packaged foods are not on that list and are also in limited supply as organic. This is contributing to the growth of non-G.M.O. labeled packaged and prepared foods.
For new players to the natural foods space, it is much easier to enter the category by using non-G.M.O. ingredients, and then transition into organic as the brand develops and grows.
“We have larger, consistent volumes of non-G.M.O. options in our diverse portfolio of ingredients,” said Joelle Mosso, director — natural and organic, Olam Spices and Vegetable Ingredients, Fresno, Calif. “Our organic program is strong, and it’s growing. With our strong technical capabilities, we can assist customers with parallel product development of non-G.M.O. and organic formulations.”
Sharon Chittkusol, associate marketing manager, North America — Wholesome Springboard, Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill., said, “One of the main reasons consumers purchase organic is to avoid G.M.O.s. Consumers may opt for non-G.M.O. foods rather than certified organic products, especially if they are at lower price points.
“More and more manufacturers of all types are converting but the immediate changes are made by the more premium and health-focused brands. The changes are also being made in the food service industry as well.”
Afrouz Naeini, senior marketing manager — sweetness and beverage at Ingredion, said, “The categories driving the majority of new non-G.M.O. product launches are those that consumers consider to be healthy and better for you, and those products that are consumed on a daily basis, fed to children and perceived as fresh. The snacks category leads the growth, head and shoulder ahead of all other categories and dairy and bakery products follow.”