Kashi has launched an effort to help increase organic farmland and access to organic foods through the recognition of farm operations who are transitioning to organic practices, but are not yet officially certified, the company announced Tuesday.
Consumer demand for organic food products has grown tremendously since the 1990s, but the growth of organic farmland acreage has not kept pace with demand. About 1% of US farmland is USDA certified as organic, and farmers face a three-year transitional period to be eligible for USDA certification.
“The health of people and the health of our planet are inextricably linked,” said Kashi CEO David Denholm in a press release. “One percent of organic acreage is just not enough – and we want to promote solutions that benefit everyone working to move organic farming forward. We believe championing farms in transition will make organic foods more accessible and support a more sustainable food system – for all of us.”
Dubbing the effort “Certified Transitional,” Kashi is partnering with organic certifier Quality Assurance International (QAI) to identify farms that are “organics in training” and recognize their crops’ status as in transition from conventional to organic. The first “Certified Transitional” ingredient in Kashi products is hard red winter wheat, used in its new Dark Cocoa Shredded Wheat Biscuits cereal.
By providing a “transitional” status for farmers on the path to official organic certification, this effort may help ease the financial burden for producers to shift their operations from conventional methods.
“Transitioning to organic isn’t easy – farmers must invest in new infrastructure, create new business plans, and even obtain new crop insurance and financing. That all starts day one when they begin converting to organic, but they don’t see the financial benefit of organic prices for three years,” said Brad Hennrich, president of Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, a specialty grain company that provided input to Kashi on the initiative. “Certified transitional provides a revenue opportunity and roadmap for farmers looking to transition that simply didn’t exist before.”
QAI’s protocol can be applied to any farmland converting to organic practices and any brand using agricultural ingredients.
“To really reach that potential, we need more farmers, processors, and brands to get on board. We encourage any brand that relies on agricultural ingredients to explore Certified Transitional sourcing,” Denholm, Kashi's CEO, said.