SOLANA BEACH, Calif., May 17, 2016 (PRNewswire) — Kashi® believes that, together, we can increase access to organic foods. Today, the company announced a first-of-its-kind, collaborative effort to increase organic farmland by recognizing "organics in training" and supporting farmers transitioning fields from conventional to organic practices. The effort is grounded in a brand new protocol called Certified Transitional – and Kashi's new Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits cereal is the first product to feature a Certified Transitional ingredient.
According to the USDA, consumer demand for organic foods has grown by double-digits every year since the 1990s – but organic acreage has not kept up. Today, only about one percent of US farmland is organic and farmers looking to transition to organic face real barriers, including shouldering financial uncertainty during the three year transition period required to be eligible for USDA Organic certification.
"The health of people and the health of our planet are inextricably linked," said David Denholm, CEO at Kashi. "One percent 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."
Inspired to play a role in boosting organic acreage beyond one percent, Kashi partnered with leading organic certifier Quality Assurance International (QAI)1 to create a way to recognize "organics in training" – crops grown on farmland in the process of transitioning from conventional to organic practices. QAI led the development of the Certified Transitional protocol, with input from Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, agricultural suppliers, a global environmental NGO, organic experts, farmers, retailers, distributors and food brands.
"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 at Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, a specialty grain company. "Certified Transitional provides a revenue opportunity and roadmap for farmers looking to transition that simply didn't exist before."
Getting to Solutions
Kashi purchased the first-ever crop of Certified Transitional ingredients – hard red winter wheat – for use in Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits, a new Kashi cereal created to showcase transitional ingredients. By contracting the transitional wheat at a price above the conventional market rate, Kashi is working to create a marketplace that recognizes the investment farmers make while transitioning to organic practices.
"Certified Transitional connects farmers, processors, brands and consumers together in a virtuous cycle that supports the transition of more acreage to organic practices," said Sarah Krol, Global Managing Director, QAI, Inc., an NSF International company. "For the first time, brands can offer Certified Transitional products to consumers which in turn allows consumers to support farmers as they transition fields to organic – we hope to see many more Certified Transitional products on shelves."
"I transitioned some of my farmland to organic in the past and experienced the financial burden and uncertainty firsthand. Certified Transitional changes the equation and makes the decision to go organic easier," said Newton Russell. Russell is one of two farmers who piloted the Certified Transitional protocol and grew the wheat featured in the first batch of Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits.
QAI's Certified Transitional protocol can be applied to any farmland growing any crop – from wheat to strawberries or cotton – and any brand using agricultural ingredients can incorporate Certified Transitional sourcing.
Let's #GoTogether Toward More Organics
"We couldn't be more excited about the potential of Certified Transitional to lower barriers and increase organic production in the U.S.," said CEO David Denholm. "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."
About Kashi Company
Kashi believes eating more plants is the catalyst for a healthier life. A natural lifestyle pioneer since 1984, Kashi produces nutritious plant-based foods including cereals, powders, entrees and snacks with curated ingredients that #gotogether. All Kashi products being made today – including its GOLEAN and Heart to Heart brands - are Non-GMO Project Verified and Kashi is proud to partner with QAI on the industry's first Certified Transitional program, which recognizes crops in transition from conventional to organic. Kashi products are available nationwide in the U.S. and Canada. Kashi is based in sunny Solano Beach, Calif.