Title: Organic production and marketing newsletter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090282/00009
 Material Information
Title: Organic production and marketing newsletter
Series Title: Organic production and marketing newsletter
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Horticultural Sciences Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publisher: Horticultural Sciences Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: December 2002
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090282
Volume ID: VID00009
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Decem ber 2002

Editor: J. J. Ferguson
Extension Horticulturist
Horticultural Sciences Department
University of Florida
PO Box 110690
Gainesville, FL 32611-0690

Newsletter Archive
Mark Your Calendar

Ecolabeling and the Greening of the Food Market
Jim Ferguson

The recent USDA implemenlalion of national organic standards in October, 2002 has energized farmers seeking new
market niches and consumers who are increasingly buying organic foods. Public interest groups, marketing
organizations, and agricultural researchers also share a renewed interest in organic farming. This focus on organic
farming and sustainable agriculture has spawned a new generation of "ecolabels" that share some organic farming
standards while also addressing broader social and trade policy issues. My purpose here is to provide general
information about ecolabels and Iheir relevance to Florida growers.

The term "ecolabeling" is derived from the science of ecology which deals with interrelationships among organisms
and between organisms and their environment. Although organically grown and other ecolabels account for probably
less than 1o of the total market, these labels and related issues are impoirant because in "capturing the interface
of environmental and Irade issues", they may forecast farming and market trends.

"Certified organic" has become the most widely known USDA-defined ecolabel, including clearly defined soil and
crop management programs, especially the avoidance of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge or
biosolids genetically-engineered organisms and ionizing radiation. However, the organic farming movement has generated
a broader emphasis on sustainable food production systems, healthful food, environmental and social justice
issues, described as the "Greening of the Food Market". The lerm "greening", used by political parties, national
government programs around the world and environmental activists emphasizes sustainability, ecology,
grassrools democracy, community-based economics and social justice, among other issues. And while organic growers
want to preserve their market niche, Ihey generally support ecolabeling but are concerned Ihat consumers don't
become saturated and confused by too many different causes, messages, and claims. Another impoiranl difference is
that organic farming is more farming-syslem focused whereas ecolabeling is more of a consumer-oriented, markel-
driven concept. For example, the specific crop production farm or site is important in ecolabeling because "place links
label principles and standards with specific crop production fields and establishes a basis for accountability." This means
that produce should be traceable back to the field in which it was grown. Developing technology called "active smart
labels" may also allow shoppers to point a hand-held computer, like a palm pilot, at a container of orange juice or a can
of tomatoes and determine exactly where that item was grown and by whom.

The large number of existing ecolabels do not currently have a single, comprehensive standard comparable to the
USDA organic standards. However efforts are underway, similar to the USDA organic standards. to develop procedures
for initial and continuing certification, continued compliance, and due process for lack of compliance. And some
ecolabels already have clearly defined standards that focus on reduced pesticide and fertilizer use, IPM and
olher sustainable practices. Since ecolabels don't generally prohibit pesticide use or require a minimum pesticide
residue standards (5o of allowable EPA standards, under USDA National Organic Standards), Ihere is no transition
period after initial certification by some ecolabel programs. In contrast, there is a 3-year transition period from conventional
to celrified organic production. Ecolabels do, however, offer conventional growers, who support sustainable
environmental and social justice issues, an option to demonstrate their stewardship with fewer barriers to adoption.
The Consumers Union has also created a searchable websile ( ) about specific ecolabels
currently found on food, wood, personal hygiene, and household cleaning products.

Some examples of ecolabels that may be relevant to Florida growers are "Protected Harvest," supported by the
World Wildlife Fund, the Universily of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. This
group markets "Healthy Grown" potatoes produced under a BIO-IPM management system that measures and
restricts pesticide use. The Food Alliance, based in Oregon and Minnesola, already ceilifies an ornamental and
citrus grower in southern Florida and promotes sustainable agriculture practices through market-based incentives,
develops promotional strategies, and establishes and maintains third-party-verifiable standards for producers
and processors. Another proposed ecolabel. "Food Miles" lakes into account food miles (Ihe distance food travels
from where it is grown to where it is distributed, purchased, and consumed and the amount of food product transpolred)
to provide consumers with a relative indicator about the transport-related environmental impact of their
purchases. Sustainable seafood ecolabels like Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council
promotes environmentally responsible fishery and aquaculture operations through ecolabeling and directed
marketing campaigns and evaluates the status of the fish stocks, the impact fisheries on ecosystems and the effectiveness
of the fisheries management system. "Grown and Picked in the USA by Workers Paid a Living Wage", based
in Immokalee. Florida, addresses "social and economic challenges faced by growers and seasonal workers with the goal
of empowering both as a force for change and improvement. Using an entrepreneurial approach "Harvest
for Humanity" ( ) works to ensure financially secure, year-round workers "through
the implementation of an living wage concept and to increase the value of farm products Ihrough a cause-relaled label
that incorporates key suslainabilily issues, including safely grown, local origin, and social justice." The North Florida
Food Partnership, currently being developed by Quality Certification Services, a Florida organic certifying agency, the
Florida DepartmenI of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and local growers will include both certified organic and
other growers and will soon have a website.

Implications for Florida growers? Operations that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are
exempled from certification but they must operate in compliance with these regulations and may label products as
organic, according to published regulations. Such farmers and also those within the Ihree-year transition process
from conventional to organic farming could market crops under some ecolabels. Conventional farmers who are
already commilled to sustainable practices but who do not want to become organically certified might also market
crops under ecolabels that are less restrictive than organic ones. Innovative pairnering already existing in olher slates
like Wisconsin between the USDA, the World Wildlife Fund, fruil and vegetable growers associations and land
grant universities could also be developed in Florida for crops like strawberries, tomatoes, citrus and other crops to
create new national and international market niches under the auspices of not only organic but other certification programs.

However, those in the ecolabeling movement stress that in the near future, synergy rather than competition among
the various ecolabel programs, especially in developing uniform, comprehensible standards, will be the keystone for
market stability.

Pilot Program Will Deliver Produce to Students This Fall
The Packer

Free fresh produce will be available to students all throughout the day, not just during lunch, in more than 100 schools in
four states and one Indian reservation in the 2002-03 school year. The $6 million pilot program is seen as a potential
springboard to a larger program to provide America's youth with easier access to fresh produce through the school
foodservice. The pilot program will be launched this October in Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, which each state having
25 schools participating, and one Indian reservation in New Mexico. USDA funds will provide each school an average of
$50,000 to buy fruits and vegetables for the school year. There are no restrictions on how they buy or how they serve
the produce. Program feedback is expected as early as March, and the National Cancer Institute and PBH are providing
material to states to help supplement the program with nutrition education.

"Healthy Grown" Gains Support
The Packer

In its inaugural season in 2001. more than 1.5 million pounds of "Healthy Grown" potatoes reached grocery store
shelves. "Healthy Grown", cultivated through a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund, the Wisconsin Potato and
Vegetable Growers Association, and The University of Wisconsin-Madison, requires growers to follow bio-intensive,
integrated pest management practices. Those practices require growers to rotate fields, manage insects, weeds and
disease with fewer and less toxic chemicals, maintain standards for water use, and alter storage practices to separate
Healthy Grown potatoes from noncertified acreage.

Many feel the key to the label's success will be retailer support, and so new signs and labeling with pictures and quotes
from growers are being designed to help tell the label's story. The Wisconsin growers association is trying to get buyers
and wholesalers to buy into the program and offer the product, just to see if consumers are willing to pay a little bit more for
a product raised in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The program had a slow start last season due to unusually higher markets, but expectations for this season are high, with
long term goals including having Lip to half the state's potato acreage certified through the program. Some companies
however, aren't planning to join the Healthy Grown program, for reasons ranging from the extra documentation and
storage tracking resources required, to lack of interest from established customers.

Market for Organic Berries Slumps as Companies Abandon Programs
The Packer

Some companies, like Pacific Gold Farms Inc., have seen sales grow every season for their organic fruit, but sales, come
from buyers specializing in organic product, not large retailers. Some blame the lack of buyer support on the need for a
strong, high-volume organic program, while others claim that for such a program to be put together, you would need
buyer support. According to The Packer's 2002 Fresh Trends consumer survey, only one third of organic purchasers
reported buying organic fruit, while 73'.:. reported buying organic vegetables. Organic proponents argue that as quality rises
and the price premium falls, organic produce sales will continue to rise. But for most major berry marketers, organic remain
a small part of the overall business. These marketers claim production is difficult with too much depending on weather,
and difficulty in maintaining the organic certification for long growth periods, citing strawberries as a 14-month crop.

GMo Label Amendment Fails in Orgeon

By a 3 to 1 margin. Oregon voters defeated a measure requiring labeling of genetically modified foods. If passed. this
would have been the first US labeling requirement for foods containing gmos. Organizers of the Campaign to
Label Genetically Modified Foods claimed oul-of-stale funding by biotech companies played a big role butl representatives
for the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling said the vole represented the will of the people.

Organic Produce in "The Packer"

The produce industry's "The Packer" periodically has a two-page listing of organic distributors and producers. They
are summarized here but few, if any, Florida firms are listed.

Organically Grown Produce listed in the Nov. 18, 2002 of The Packer. Most of these companies are
based in California

Company Product/Service

Access Organic Sales Growers' Sales Agent

Albert's Organic Produce Distribution

Covilli Brand Organics Mixed vegetables, melons

Natura Organic Mexican fruits and vegetables

Farmers Fresh Express Cillus, avocados, mangos, apples, melons, grapes, kiwi, squash,
cucumbers, peppers, ginger

Earthbound Farm Vegetables and specially salad blends

Food Source Potatoes, yams, melons

Four Star Fruit Corporation Apples

Jacobs Farm Culinary herbs, edible flowers, cherry tomatoes, vegetables

JBJ Distributing, Inc. Distribution

Jonathan's Organic Winter grapes (South Africa)

Melissa's Certified Organic Produce Fruits and vegetables

Misionero Vegetables Salad Mixes, asparagus and strawberries

Pure Pacific Certified Organic Salad Mixes, vegetables and fruil

Pacific Organic Prodce Apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots,
Pacific Organic Produce
citrus avocados, potatoes

Slemlit Organic Harvest, packing, marketing

Wild River Organic Kiwifruit Kiwi

Source Organic Procuireinent/disiribution

Growers Feel Price Pinch

Interest in organic is growing but profile margins are shrinking because retailers are trying to equalize pricing
between conventional and organic produce. Larger growers are also entering the market, fuiher complicating production
and marketing efficiencies for small growers. But instead of becoming organic on their own land. large companies
are sometimes partner with an existing organic operation. With economic viability the bottom line, some large

organic growers think smaller growers will have to go in a different direction, whatever that may be.

Veggies for the Greying Years and for Smaller Households

The number of 65-year-olds and older will grow from 35 million in 2000 (1200 of the population) to 53.7 million in 2020 and
to 82 million in 2050 (2000 of the population). According to the USDA publication. Food Review, those over 60 (men:
290o:women:32o) are more likely to consume the recommended two daily servings of fuil that those in the 19-59
age bracket (men 140o: women190o). A ripe market for low prices, small packaging and small size fruit and veggies.

Another trend, noted in the Nov. 11 issue of The Packer was smaller households. As the baby boomers mature into
empty nesters, younger generations are also remaining single longer and bearing children later in life. A representative of
the National Potato Board said mature adults with no children don't want a 10-pound bag of potatoes anymore and
that produce should be marketed, again, in smaller quantities.

Most Certified Organic Vegetable Acreage (2001)

Most Certified Organic Vegetable Acreage (2001)
i_1 DA3 EconoI rrill- Re Li rch Senrce.'

I-alifo rnja

i.r egon

Organics a Hard Sell

Those who buy organic produce will continue to do so but those who don't, probably won't. A recent consumer study by
AC Nielsen US. repoded in The Packer, indicated that of the 330o of consumers who bought organic within six months of
the survey, most (850o ) plan to continue buying organic but only 3o of those who don't normally buy organic will do
so. Nielsen recommended that retailers emphasize that organic growers don't use conventional pesticides and gmos
rather than claiming higher quality for organic produce.

Poultry Farm Closings Could Affect Manure Availability
The Gainesville Sun

Tyson Foods Inc. sent letters to its employees and contract growers in December stealing that the company's
poultry operations in Jacksonville would be closed permanently on Jan. 31, effectively shutting down 75 farms in
nodheaslern Florida and seven in southern Georgia. Officials said the chicken market is in contraction with
production exceeding demand and that they don't expect any change in prices or availability of chickens for consumers.

Broiler poultry production in Florida is set up on a contract basis. Families often own three or four of the 300- to 400-foot-
long barns where they raise tens of thousands of chickens. Barn owners are responsible for utility costs and labor, while

the company provides the birds, all the feed and any medicine needed. The company delivers the birds in increments
of 5.000 just hours after they hatch and Ihen picks them back up as 6-pound, ready-lo-process birds known as broilers 51
to 56 days later. Jacksonville was processing 650,000 of them a week. Growers are paid based on a formula that
includes the cumulative weight of the birds they raised compared with the feed they used and compared with similar
statistics from nearby farms. In central and south Florida poultry operations produce eggs rather than broilers as in
north Florida. Tyson has 40 plants in 18 states from Pennsylvania to Texas and is planning to close plants in, Oklahoma
and Maryland.

Since broiler manure is generally drier with a higher nitrogen content per unit weight than weller manure from cage-
layer operations where eggs are produced, these closing could affect availability of manure used as the primary fertilizer
by organic growers.

Generic Organic Promotions Checkoff
The Packer

Other commodity groups like Florida's cilrus industry, contribute checkoff funds based on per unit yields for
generic advertising. There is currently no such checkoff or generic advertising program for US certified organic produce
and organic growers do not now contribute to general commodity checkoff programs for citrus, vegetables, etc. However,
by May. 2004, the USDA will have written rules for determining how the current exemption for organic growers will
apply. Meanwhile, the Organic Trade Association is working on a voluntary national promotion program for organic.
Whether or not voluntary checkoffs to support a national promolion program will work is another question.

Organic Labeling Guidelines

USDA Labeling Guidelines for organic products

100% Organic Organic Made with Organic Ingredients

Less than 700 organic
Only organically produced 9500 organically produced At least 7000 of organic ingredients
ingredients ingredients ingredients

Other ingredients must be on
approved lists or not he o e May identify specific
commercially available as of p lhee organically produced
organic ingredients on
organic display panel ingredients on information
principal display panel
Generic label and %o of organic ingredients displayed on label

May use "made with organic Cannot use "Organic" on
USDA organic seal and seal/address of certifying agents on label May ulse"ade wth organic Caini0t use "Oranic" on
products" but no USDA seal principal display label

Organic products cannot be produced using excluded methods, including gmos, sewage sludge and ionizing radiation

Civil Penally up to $10,000 for knowingly selling or labeling organic products not produced in accord with Nalional
Organic Regulalions


Southern SAWG goes to Mobile in 2003

"Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms," the 12th Annual Southern Sustainable
AGriculture Working Group (SAWG) Conference, will be held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Mobile, Alabama

on January 23-26, 2003. Over 40 educational sessions will be featured on production techniques,
marketing strategies, farm policies, youth education, and other important issues of sustainability. There will be
field trips to area farms, a trade show, and an Eco-Feast. The cost of registration is $105 per person. A full
schedule of events and registration form will be in the winter issue of Southern Sustainable Farming.

For more information about the Conference and the fee waivers, visit our website at www.attra.orq/ssawql or
contact Ryan Cohen, conference publicity coordinator at 404-819-2122 or ryancohen(cmsn.com

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