Consumer access to organic foods and grower access to food processors is about to get easier. In early June 2016, Kashi®, a maker of whole grain cereals and other plant-based foods, will introduce the first consumer product (a new breakfast cereal) made with a Certified Transitional ingredient: hard red winter wheat processed by Hesco/Dakota Organic Products.
The transitional designation means the cereal was made using at least 51 percent certified transitional content. Hesco sourced its hard red winter wheat from farmers who are transitioning fields from conventional to organic practices over a three-year period. Previously, there was no market for “organics in training” growers during the transition period.
Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, part of the Healthy Food Ingredients family, received its Certified Transitional certification in February 2016 from Quality Assurance International (QAI). Hesco is the first and only ingredient supplier and processor to meet the strict protocol required and obtain compliance. Brad Hennrich, HFI president, says the certification will create more opportunities for growers.
“We work with farmers to source organic and conventional crops. This is a big opportunity for us to partner with growers who are looking to transition to organic production. We now have a market for these growers’ crops during the three transitional years, and they can be compensated with a premium during the costly conversion to organic,” Hennrich notes.
Hesco has been instrumental in the development of a transitional certification program through the U.S.D.A., in which Chris Wiegert, HFI vice president of purchasing, is on the Organic Trade Association Transitional Task Force.
Only one percent of U.S. farmland is organic; yet consumer demand has grown by double-digits every year from the 1990s to 2014, according to the Organic Trade Association.