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.
Today, Kashi® 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.
Inspired to play a role in boosting organic acreage beyond one percent, Kashi partnered with Quality Assurance International (QAI) — an independent certification organization and leading USDA-accredited organic certifying body, which developed and will manage and own the Certified Transitional protocol - 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 — a privately owned, specialty grain company — as well as agricultural suppliers, a global environmental NGO, organic experts, farmers, retailers, distributors and food brands.
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 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 at QAI, Inc., an NSF Internationalcompany. “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, 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.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the potential of Certified Transitional to lower barriers and increase organic production in the U.S.,” Denholm said. “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.”