Hot issues in US natural health food industry
I – “Organic” personal care
(Healingtalks) Use of the term “organic” in a personal care product apparently does not ensure that they meet USDA-NOP standards (or of the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Personal care products labeled “organic” either
- Are purely organic
- May contain ingredients considered organic but not certified organic
- Contain absolutely no organic content at all.
- Contain harmful and toxic ingredients.
Initial consumer campaign
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has started a “Coming Clean Campaign” to limit organic claims on personal care products to only those certified to USDA organic standards. Over 600 companies have joined the campaign since 2004.
Earlier in 2010, key retailers including Whole Foods Markets and National Cooperative Grocers Association stores announced a banning of products bearing false organic labels. It will force these brands to either change their labels or reformulate their products.
Currently, the USDA certifies personal care products with 95–100% organic ingredients and for companies that comply with its standards. These products are allowed to bear the USDA Organic seal.
The Organic Consumers Association, natural channel retailers and major body care companies are pressuring on the USDA to regulate this label in the same way they do for food and beverage products.
According to SPINSscan Natural and SPINSscan Conventional data (for natural supermarkets excluding Whole Foods, Conventional Food/Drug/Mass excluding WalMart), sales of 100% organic body care products rose 37.8% over the past year to $2,930,719.
Natural body care items labeled 95–99% organic experienced a 33.1% growth during the same timeframe (total sales of $8,383,609). These data represent the 52-week period ending October 2, 2010, compared with the prior year (52 weeks ending October 3, 2009).
II – GMOs
GMOs are not living up to their claims and offer us huge health and environmental hazards.
False hype plus dangers of GMOs
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that GMO crops do not produce increased yields, are not really drought tolerant, create more expenses for the farmer and ultimately yield deficient crops. In short, there is a deception. Moreover, animal studies have found GMO foods to pose serious health risks including abnormal changes to major organs with stomach ulcers, enlarged livers, precancerous conditions and reduced fertility.
Human research study of GMOs
To date, there has only been one published study on the effects of GMO foods on humans. The study found potential health hazards that were never further examined (1).
Labeling of GMOs and non-GMO products
In response to consumer concerns, retailers helped to start the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization that aides shoppers to identify which products are not genetically modified. This created a third-party verification program with its own uniform seal for products that do not have GMO ingredients. The Non-GMO trend is taking root among retailers and shoppers.
Common GMO produce
GMO crops to be on the look out for are canola, cotton, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and crookneck squash. Many more are in the future pipe lines.
GMO trend statistics
The Non-GMO Project’s label is the first one indicating a third-party verification or testing for GMOs. During the 52-week period ending October 2, 2010, sales of Non-GMO Project-certified foods were $343,201,976. This is a 14.4% growth compared with the previous year (52 weeks ending October 3, 2009), according to SPINSscan Natural and SPINSscan Conventional (natural supermarkets excluding Whole Foods, Conventional Food/Drug/Mass excluding WalMart).
Awareness and controversy grows
As the awareness of the dangers of GMOs increases, so does the legal and legislative controversy. Several states are considering laws that will mandate GMO labeling. Also individuals and organizations are filing lawsuits, to fight back. The recent lawsuit against the USDA over the agency’s decision to allow the immediate planting of genetically modified sugar beets (2) is a case in point
Another hot issue and major consumer trend is Gluten-free foods. This address the needs of shoppers with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune reaction. It damages the small intestine, potentially leading to malnutrition and deficiency diseases. This disorder is found in genetically disposed individuals who eat gluten, a protein found in many grains including wheat, rye and barley. About 1% of the US population has celiac disease (3). The majority remain undiagnosed for the percentage is likely much higher. It is not common to test for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Mounting awareness, self-diagnosis and going to alternative health practitioners has hotly moved this issue into the limelight.
Statistics on Gluten free products
In the natural and conventional FDM channels, gluten-free foods experienced a 16.3% growth in the 52-week period ending October 2, 2010 (source: SPINSscan Natural, SPINSscan Conventional, powered by Nielsen). SPINs estimates gluten-free sales during this period reached over $2.5 billion.
Reading labels has gotten easier where there are new verification programs in place with readily identifiable seals. More stringent labeling laws are coming to assist consumers.
1. “GM Crops: Just the Science,” www.nongmoproject. org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07 /GM-Crops-just-the-science.pdf, accessed Oct. 25, 2010.
2. K. Blackwell, “USDA Sued Over GM Sugar Beet Permits,” http://naturalfoodsmerchandiser. com/tabId/119/itemId/4956/USDAsued- over-GM-sugar-beet-permits.aspx? cid=nl_iu, accessed Oct. 25, 2010.
3. N. Lapid, “How Common Is Celiac Disease?” http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/faqs/f/ HowCommon.htm, accessed Oct. 25, 2010.
Organic cosmetics, organic skin care,celiac disease, genetically modified organisms, genetically engineered foods, gluten-free foods, say no to gmos, natural product labels
Three part theme based on a article by Kerry Watson first published in WholeFoods Magazine