- "Huge consumer demand" for organic foods and beverages among U.S. consumers has now surpassed the domestic supply of organic ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- The agency noted that manufacturers interested in making organic products are having difficulties finding enough farmers to supply them.
- USDA is teaching more farmers to become certified organic farmers. The agency is also moving to expand equivalency agreements with other countries, which can make international trade of organic products easier for U.S. manufacturers and farmers.
In addition to the USDA, manufacturers themselves can get involved in promoting organic farming to increase their own domestic ingredients supply. In March, General Mills committed to doubling its organic sourcing acreage with plans to reach a goal of 250,000 acres by 2019. That acreage increase may enable General Mills to reach its goal of $1 billion in net sales from natural and organic products by 2019, a year ahead of schedule.
If unable to source the ingredients they need domestically, manufacturers may then have to look elsewhere for organic ingredients to keep up with demand and reach organic product sales goals. One potential option is Cuba, which is not only geographically closer than most other countries, but the country's farms have been free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides since the early 1990s.
Cuba is now open for exports from U.S. meat, poultry, and egg plants, but the U.S. government still has to lift the Cuban embargo. Also, Cuban farmers will need to go through the USDA's certification process. The products will need to pass U.S. food safety and pest inspections, and the country's infrastructure would need updates to facilitate the volume of trades needed by U.S. manufacturers.
Organic trade equivalency agreements with other countries can also help manufacturers get the ingredients they need and have more markets in which to sell their organic products. These agreements enable other countries to label imports as organic without having to go through USDA certification, because the agreement recognizes their standards and certification process as being similar to that in the U.S. The U.S. has already signed such agreements with Switzerland (2015), South Korea (2014), Japan (2013), the EU (2012), and Canada (2009).