From "Proving the Organic Benefit with Ingredients"
By Brenda Porter

The 2002 adoption of the National Organic Program (NOP) rules by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) simply created a set of uniform standards, rather than increasing manufacturers’ use of organic ingredients.

Ingredient supplier Corigins’ (Laconia, NH) president Bruce Kirk noted, "I think [the rules] normalized the expectations of what that ingredient will be–what they can count on. And that is that the organic ingredient is certified in a way that they haven’t been able to trust before."

Added Cynthia Sasaki, senior research manager, Kerry Seasonings (Kent, WA), "What we have seen is a standardization for organic ingredients which allows manufacturers’ the ability to compare ‘like’ items for quality, source, and pricing. The regulations have also provided a ‘common ground’ in defining the levels of organic."

Pointing to NMI’s report, P.L. Thomas’ (Morristown, NJ) national business development manager, Rodger Jonas, said the NOP serves as a uniform code that is now attracting major food companies to the vast potential market of organic products.

He cautioned, however, "Despite the increasing interest in organic products, only a handful of companies...have the dedication to [the] organic philosophy that will permit them to pay the premium for the quality/certification."

Additionally, experts have relayed mixed opinions as to whether or not the rules are helping promote the use of organic ingredients.

Kirk said he has not found the federal regulations to help promote the use of organic. Instead, he said, "The key to success is when you partner with a client to ensure availability and traceability."

For example, Kirk said organic cocoa from Ghana is different from organic cocoa from Ecuador. What’s important here, he said, is that clients can be assured a steady supply of the organic ingredient they’re ordering.