Baking & Snack - August 2018 - 16

ABA emphasizes
transparency in BE labeling

Data on organic reveals
latest opportunities
At the Institute of Food Technologists' annual expo, organic foods
stood out as driving the food industry. During his presentation,
"Using Data to Improve the Organic & Non-GMO Marketplace,"
Alex Heilman, director of sales, Mercaris, showed how the organic
agricultural market can point to future opportunities of growth.
Mr. Heilman said there has been a 15% increase in organic acreage as a share of US agriculture. While most of the acreage of organic corn in the US is found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and New
York, this growth was mostly happening in the Pacific Northwest.
Despite this increase in acreage, US growers aren't meeting
the demand for organic crops. Mr. Heilman reported that about
75% of organic soybeans and about 30% of organic corn in the US
are imported.
"This shows that there is a lot of opportunity for domestic growers to meet this demand for organic soy and corn," he said.
Much of this disparity can be attributed to barriers that farmers
must overcome to get into organic, but Mr. Heilman sees companies
starting to help farmers overcome them. "We're seeing more incentive programs to help farmers transition to organic crops," he said.
Other ways the food industry is supporting organic farmers include vertical integration of agriculture and providing them with
markets to sell organic rotational crops. Another opportunity outside of organic is identity-preserved crops.
"Identity-preserved crops are all about creating a set of parameters that aren't necessarily organic but still create added value for
the crop," Mr. Heilman explained.
This can include country-of-origin specification for coffee,
grass-fed meat and dairy ingredients and healthy attributes such
as high-oleic soybeans. Identity-preserved products is a $20 billion market that continues to grow, Mr. Heilman said, making it
an obvious place for food manufacturers looking to expand and
differentiate their products.

16 Baking & Snack August 2018 /

Excluding refined ingredients from federal bioengineering (BE) labeling requirements would diminish consumer confidence in the integrity of the rules, according to the American Bakers Association (ABA).
In a letter to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the US
Department of Agriculture, ABA urged the department to include
refined ingredients in the definition of bioengineered foods. The letter, from Lee Sanders, senior vice-president, government relations
and public affairs for ABA, was sent in response to the May publication in the Federal Register of the National Bioengineered Food
Disclosure Standard.
"To support consumers' desire for transparency about food products and to preserve the integrity of the federal BE disclosure standard,
ABA strongly believes that AMS should not exclude any refined ingredients from the disclosure standard," Ms. Sanders said.
ABA objects to a statement in the bioengineering rules asserting
that highly refined ingredients do not contain BE at detectable levels.
"ABA understands that the federal BE standard was created in response to Vermont's genetically engineered food disclosure standard,
which, in turn, was based on the request of consumers in Vermont for
a disclosure on the label of bioengineered foods," Ms. Sanders said.
As a cutoff for whether labeling is required, the association would
prefer a low threshold of inadvertent or technically unavoidable BE
content, but ABA is not insistent on the point. Ms. Sanders suggested
AMS adopt a threshold of 0.9% by weight of a specific ingredient. She
suggested there should be no allowance for intentionally added BE
substance in the guidelines.
-Josh Sosland, Milling & Baking News

Smucker to divest brands
Private equity firm Brynwood Partners, Greenwich, CT, has entered
an agreement to acquire the US baking business of The J.M. Smucker
Co., Orrville, OH, for $375 million. Brands included in the transaction
are Pillsbury, Martha White, Hungry Jack, White Lily and Jim Dandy.
Brynwood Partners owns several food and beverage companies, including Harvest Hill Beverages, Stamford, CT, and Joseph's Gourmet
Pasta, Haverhill, MA.
"The divestiture reflects our strategy to further focus our portfolio
and develop a stronger presence in pet food, coffee, and snacking -
all large, growing categories with sustainable growth projections," said
Mark Smucker, president and CEO.
"Pillsbury, Martha White and Hungry Jack remain iconic brands
and, although they no longer align with our strategic priorities, we are
confident they will be nurtured at Brynwood," he continued. "While
the decision to divest these brands was difficult, it underscores our
commitment to allocating resources toward those areas of the business critical to our growth."
-Keith Nunes, Food Business News

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - August 2018