The growth in organic products over the years has been exponential. What was once just a few shelves at the supermarket now amounts to more than $39 billion in annual sales*. Yet even as the demand increases, still only about one percent of all farmland in the U.S. is used to grow organics. The barrier to transitioning to organic food is high for farmers who have to adhere to strict standards and wait three years to let soil return to normal before they can put the organic label on products – a huge impact to the bottom line. And therefore companies selling organics have had to get creative with supply chains, oftentimes agreeing to long-term contracts or simply buying entire farms to meet demand. Now, one cereal company is offering a new approach to organics, bringing the "Certified Transitional" label to consumers.
Cereal brand Kashi has long been in the organic food space. In fact, it was the first to launch an organic cereal back in 2002, according to Take Part. Now, in an effort to keep up with demand, Kashi is offering a new way to encourage farms to transition to organic. This week the brand announced it will be introducing a "Certified Transitional" label on certain cereals. The label denotes using ingredients from farms that are in the process of converting farmland to organic methods and is structured to incentivize farmers to go organic by offering a premium price during that in-between period. Beyond encouraging farmers, the label also helps consumers have a part in supporting farms in transition. According to Nicole Nestojko, senior director of supply chain and sustainability for Kashi, in a recent interview with GreenBiz, "Part of the inspiration for the new transitional labeling program came from consumers who said they might want to financially support farmers voluntarily choosing to jump into organic ingredients."
Although many companies have found resourceful methods to increase supply of organic ingredients, Kashi's approach is one of the first to invite consumers into the process. Now, consumers who want more organic options can "vote with their wallets" – encouraging and supporting farms in transition.
*As of 2014