Natural Grocers recalls organic soybeans

Natural Grocers recalls organic soybeans
Natural Grocers recalls organic soybeans.

WASHINGTON – Organic grocery retailer Natural Grocers issued a recall on its 2-pound bags of organic soybeans. According to the company, the packages have the potential to contain mold.

The company discovered the contamination risk, and the product was suspended pending investigations by Natural Grocers and the Food and Drug Administration.

The organic soybeans were distributed to 154 Natural Grocers’ stores located in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Consumers should discontinue the use of bags bearing 19-168 and 19-205 as the packed-on dates. The packed-on date is on the bottom left-hand corner of the label.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has flexible and smaller footprint neighborhood stores in 20 states. And it also has approximately 3,500 employees.

According to its recent financial report, Natural Grocers signed leases for five new stores. They acquired the property for two additional new stores, which will open during 2020 and beyond.

Organic nutrition products maker to be acquired

Orgain
Orgain to sell a majority stake in the company to Butterfly.

LOS ANGELES – Orgain, a manufacturer of organic nutrition products, will be acquired by Butterfly. The Los Angeles-based private equity firm specializes in the food sector.

Earlier this month, both companies announced Butterfly had signed an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the company. Orgain’s Founder Dr. Andrew Abraham, M.D. will retain a significant minority ownership position and will continue as Chief Executive Officer.

“We are excited about this next phase of growth for our brand, the ability to expand globally, and the opportunity to inspire so many more healthy, vibrant lives,” Abraham said in a statement.

A cancer survivor, Abraham launched Orgain in 2009 with the industry’s first organic ready-to-drink nutrition shake.

According to Orgain’s website, Abraham was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in his teens.

“During chemo and radiation, I lost my appetite entirely and experienced alarming weight loss,” he said. “When my doctors recommended nutrition shakes to get my weight up, the only options available were full of unhealthy and synthetic ingredients. So my mother and I started making our own organic shakes at home.

“The power of clean nutrition stayed with me as I entered my medical career. As I treated patients, I was consumed by the idea that I could help millions more people a day by bringing a healthier, organic nutrition shake to the market.”

Abraham took that desire to help others and quit his medical practice to start Orgain.

Since then, the company has produced numerous organic nutrition products from protein powders to shakes and bars.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a limited partner of Butterfly, will also be a new minority investor alongside Butterfly and Abraham.

Organic ground beef recall

NATURES RANCHER

WASHINGTON –  Approximately  130,464 pounds of raw ground, organic beef from Nature’s Rancher brand was recalled due to potential contamination with plastic, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The products in question were produced from Oct. 3, 2019, through Oct. 15, 2019, and are labeled as follows: “Nature’s Rancher 100% Grass Fed Organic Ground Beef 85% Lean, 15% Fat” and “Nature’s Rancher 100% Grass Fed Organic Ground Beef 93% Lean, 7% Fat.”

NaturesRancher93The USDA says the items were shipped to distribution centers and then to retail locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, and Maryland.

The recall was prompted by consumer complaints received through the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline and directly by the company that produces Nature’s Rancher, Rastelli Bros., Inc., doing business as Rastelli Foods Group, located in Swedesboro, N.J.

“When the complaints were identified by USDA, we immediately initiated an investigation into the source of the alleged object, monitoring the entire manufacturing process and examining every piece of equipment, and modes of transportation to determine the root cause of these complaints,” said Carl Zerr, director of food safety and quality assurance for Rastelli’s Food Group. “Additionally, we independently purchased the products from various retail locations to inspect the quality of the consumer-facing packages. After said inquiries, we have yet to find additional foreign material in any of the products nor have we determined an explanation of how these alleged plastics could have materialized.”

Although there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products, the USDA urges consumers who purchased the products in question to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

 

 

 

Farmers face organic food fraud charges

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Midwest farmers convicted of fraudulently selling $142 million of grain as organic. Photo by LilacDragonfly from Pexels

The conviction of five Midwestern U.S. farmers of selling non-organic grains as organic intensified growing concerns over organic food fraud.

John Burton, a farmer from Clarksdale, Missouri, pled guilty, Friday, May 10, and was convicted on one count of wire fraud for fraudulently selling $142 million in organic grain.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a statement, Burton admitted that grain grown on non-organic fields was marketed and sold as organic along with the use of unapproved substances on certified organic grounds.

Ongoing investigation

Three additional farmers from Nebraska pled guilty and were convicted of one count of wire fraud in October 2018 as part of an earlier, broader probe by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Tom Brennan, James Brennan, and Mike Potter, from Overton, Nebraska, all admitted to growing non-organic grain that they knew was being marketed and sold as organic.

According to the DOJ, from 2010 to 2017, each of the three farmers received more than $2.5 million for that grain.

All four plea deals are related to a case involving Randy Constant, owner of the grain brokerage firm, Jericho Solutions, located in Ossian, Iowa.

Constant, a resident of Chillicothe, Missouri, was convicted on December 20, 2018, of one count of wire fraud for fraudulently selling $142,433,475 worth of non-organic grain as organic.

According to the DOJ, Constant falsely told customers he sold grain grown on his certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri.

However, the grains were not organic because he either purchased them from other growers, sprayed certified organic fields with non-GMO substances, or mixed organic grain with the non-organic grain.

As part of his plea deal, Constant agreed to forfeit $128,190,128 in proceeds from the scheme.

The judge set sentencing for Constant, Tom Brennan, James Brennan, and Potter on August 16, 2019. Scheduled sentencing for Burton occurs after preparation of a presentence report, the DOJ says.

All five men face a maximum sentence of 20 years, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Growing problem

A 2017 report by the Washington Post discovered weaknesses in the U.S. Agricultural Department’s ability to verify the chain-of-custody of supposed “organic” grains imported from Eastern Europe.

According to the paper, three shiploads, equating to “millions of pounds of ‘organic’ corn or soybeans,” entered the country during that period.

Those grains, designated as animal feed, have a direct impact on the authenticity of organic food. “Organic eggs, organic milk, organic chicken and organic beef are supposed to come from animals that consume organic feed, an added expense for farmers that contributes to the higher consumer prices on those items,” the Post says.

While a great deal of focus is on the import of fraudulent organic food, the conviction of the five Midwestern farmers indicates the problem is not just with imports but with domestic suppliers as well.

In a nod towards the problem, the Organic Trade Association recently rolled out a plan it had been developing for the past two years. Its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program is designed to fight fraud in the global system.

“Fraud in the global organic supply chain poses a significant threat to the integrity of the organic brand,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, in a statement. “For the past two years, the Organic Trade Association has prioritized significant time and resources into organic fraud prevention solutions. We are fighting fraud on many fronts, including through the 2018 Farm Bill and through private sector initiatives. The more companies that join this industry-driven program, the stronger the organic supply chain will be.”

The organization says the program is not a label, and it does not involve certification or verification. It is merely a quality assurance program in which organic businesses can voluntarily enroll to help minimize or eliminate organic food fraud both inside and outside of the United States.harges

Natural Grocers celebrates 1 million customer loyalty members

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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is a specialty retailer of organic and natural groceries, body care products and dietary supplements.

DENVER – Organic and specialty retailer Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage recently announced a sweepstakes contest to celebrate its customer loyalty program {N}power, which is expected to surpass one million members this summer. The grand-prize winner of Natural Grocers’ 1 Millionth {N}power Member Sweepstakes will receive one year of free groceries.

{N}power launched in May 2015 offering Natural Grocers’ customers digital coupons, personalized offers, rewards, and other benefits. According to the company, the program has seen more than 50 percent growth in its membership in the last year alone.

“The program has grown steadily for two reasons,” said Natural Grocers Co-President Kemper Isely. “First, more people than ever are learning how to better take care of their bodies by eating organic and natural foods. Second, the {N}power program makes embracing a healthy lifestyle more affordable than ever with personalized offers, digital coupons, and rewards for purchases made.”

Additional 1 Millionth {N}power Member Sweepstakes prizes include:

  • Five second-place winners will win free groceries for six months.
  • 150 third-place winners will win a $50 Natural Grocers gift card.

Founded in Colorado in 1955, Natural Grocers has more than 3,500 employees and operates 152 stores in 19 states.

For more information, visit www.naturalgrocers.com/millionth.

Enso Beauty, a 100% USDA certified organic skincare line, launches

Enso Beauty skincare

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. –  The new Enso Beauty skincare line just hit the market bearing the USDA Organic logo certifying that its ingredients are 100 percent natural and organic.

Adria Andrews, who started the company with her husband Phillip, says the products were developed due to her skin sensitivity. According to the company’s website, Adria recognizes her husband’s knowledge of plants and herbs as the root of the new line: “Passionate about organic ingredients for home cooking and his vegetable gardening projects, he had amassed knowledge on botanical specimens and extensively studied Earth-grown ingredients. I parlayed Philip’s wisdom, and together we created Enso Beauty.”

Enso Beauty is free from GMOs, parabens, palm oil, hydrogenation, potassium sorbate, potassium benzoate and toxic preservatives, the company says, and uses Indian Gooseberry, an anti-aging extract, as its first ingredient in the following products:
• Amla Antioxidant C Serum
• Amla Repair C Balm
• Amla Revitalizing C Eye Cream
• Amla Sensitive Skin Cleanser
• The Amla Antioxidant C Mist contains rose flower water, witch hazel extract then Amla extract.

Visit ensobeautyco.com for more information.

Korean firm acquires $29.29 million stake in online organic grocer Thrive Market

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

LOS ANGELES – Online organic and natural foods grocer Thrive Market, based in Los Angeles, California, sold a $29.29 (US) million stake in its firm to Seoul, Korea-based GS Retail, according to The Korea Herald.

The Korean firm, parent company of GS25 convenience stores and GS Supermarket, is looking to not only learn from Thrive’s unique business model, which saw exponential growth since its start in 2014 but feature several of Thrive’s more popular items in its own retail operations.

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

Earlier this year, Thrive co-founder Gunnar Lovelace told FoodNavigator-USA that the company has experienced such a growth spurt over the past few years that it “had to stop marketing because the business was growing so fast we couldn’t handle the scale. This year alone we’ll grow well over 50 percent,” he said.

Lovelace also told FoodNavigator that the company had identified more than $250 million in potential capital from interested aligned investors.

How it works

Thrive has streamlined the retail model offering its more than 400,000 members access to a curated list of organic and non-GMO products including food and health and beauty products at a wholesale cost. All items are shipped to its customers in 100 percent recyclable packaging and its shipping facilities are zero waste.

Memberships cost approximately $59.95 for a year. According to the company, each new membership sponsors a free membership for a low-income family.

For more information, visit thrivemarket.com.

 

 

 

Amy’s Kitchen partners with Vera Whole Health to debut healthcare centers at its plants

Amy's Kitchen Vera Health care centers
Care at the new centers will include ongoing progress checks, with Amy’s Kitchen fully covering costs for prescriptions and services conducted onsite. Photo: Vera Whole Health

POCATELLO, Idaho – Organic food maker Amy’s Kitchen held a grand opening for its new health care center at its Pocatello, Idaho plant.

In a partnership with Vera Whole Health, a direct-to-employer primary care provider in the Western United States, Amy’s Kitchen transformed its existing onsite health services, first launched by the company in 2011, into whole health wellness centers in each of the company’s three U.S. plants.

Two fully redesigned Amy’s Kitchen whole health primary care centers and new wellness programs were launched at Amy’s White City, Oregon, manufacturing facility with a grand re-opening in June, followed by the Amy’s Santa Rosa, California, facility, which opened later that month.

The new Vera wellness and primary care centers prioritize preventative health and will be staffed by a dedicated team of mostly bilingual medical providers specially trained in individual health coaching. Amy’s employees will have the opportunity to establish wellness plans for not only themselves but also for eligible family members. Care will include ongoing progress checks, with Amy’s Kitchen fully covering costs for prescriptions and services conducted onsite. Employee access to the new wellness centers is in addition to the full range of health insurance benefits that Amy’s Kitchen also provides.

“We specialize in creating good-for-you foods that fuel a healthy body, mind and spirit,” said Amy’s Kitchen Global President Xavier Unkovic. “Our Amy’s Kitchen team is in many ways the soul of our company and vital to our mission. We want to ensure that our employees and their families enjoy top-notch medical care with attention to their personal goals and overall wellness. Vera’s approach to whole health aligns with our goal of better serving our team and helping foster health-minded communities.”

Amy’s Kitchen is a family-owned company that has been a pioneer in the organic food movement since its start in 1987. Its products are available in the U.S. as well as more than 25 other countries around the globe.

FoodChain ID expands into organic certification

FoodChain ID

FAIRFIELD, Iowa – Organic certification options were recently added to FoodChain ID’s portfolio of services based on client requests for the ability to consolidate the certification process into a one-stop approach.

FoodChain ID, formerly known as Global ID Group, is one of the largest global entities in food safety, testing, and verification and it said that nearly half of its non-GMO clients simultaneously certify as organic, making it a significant growth area for the company.

“We’re excited to add more integrated solutions to our portfolio of services,” said David Carter general manager, FoodChain ID. “Growing consumer and regulatory pressure to clearly identify what is, and isn’t, in the foods we eat has many of our clients rapidly seeking providers that can streamline certification and verification services in a way that reduces overhead and speeds their time to market.”

The company acquired two companies to aid in its ability to offer global certification services including Bioagricert, a global company that was among the first to market in the certification of organic foods, in December 2017 and more recently Quality Partner, a premier food safety testing, inspections and certification company serving France and the Benelux regions of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Benelux region is a priority growth market for Global ID with more than USD 42Bn in revenue in the food market. QP has over 3,000 clients in Europe and is a recognized market leader.

With more than 33 years of expertise in the organic sector, Bioagricert is one of the top, global, NOP-certifying bodies, having certified over 900 operations, the company said.

“As an organic certification pioneer, Bioagricert’s expertise in organic certification, combined with FoodChain ID’s Non-GMO verification expertise and SupplyTrak mapping and label verification system, further strengthens FoodChain ID’s leadership position in providing independent, third-party labeling claims,” Carter added.

QP carries out quality control activities in the agriculture, food processing, retail and catering sectors with a portfolio of testing, inspection, certification, and technical services. QP’s testing business focuses on food microbiology testing, metagenomics, and biomarker testing; its certification offerings include Organic, FSSC 22000, ISO22000, GlobalGAP and Belgian standards. QP also offers technical and training services to retailers and manufacturers.

“The addition of Quality Partner further expands FoodChain ID’s international footprint and leadership position,” said Brad Riemenapp, CEO of Global ID. “QP brings us access to its broad and attractive client base and 18 years of expertise in food safety testing, inspections, and certification. This acquisition is a further step in developing Global ID’s presence in organic certification, following the acquisition of Bioagricert in December 2017. We are excited to enter the Benelux region with the completion of this acquisition.”

FoodChain ID, which serves over 30,000 clients in more than 100 countries, is a portfolio company of Paine Schwartz Partners, a private equity firm engaging in sustainable food chain investing.

Organic food demand expected to grow global market over 14% annually for next 5 years

organic-veggie-1538668-1600x1200The global organic food market is poised for dramatic growth over the next five years, according to the “Global Organic Food Market – Forecast and Opportunities, 2011-2021” report from Research and Markets.

The global market for organic food is projected to grow at an annual rate of over 14% during 2016-2021, due largely to the high demand for organic food from restaurants, educational institutions as well as retail outlets. Also, lifestyle changes due to health concerns, are another significant impact on organic food demand.

Additional factors contributing to rising demand include the easy availability of organic food products and infrastructural developments in supply chain and distribution network.