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Costco working to increase the organic food supply in America by investing in farm-to-market principles on a massive scale


(NaturalNews) In response to the growing desire by Americans to consume more organic foods, Costco has announced its recent effort to work with farmers to help them buy land and equipment that will enable them to grow organics. The more organics that are grown means the more organics
that Costco will be able to supply its customers; Costco will be better poised to meet the growing demand for these healthier foods as a result.

The move is a logical one.

After all, consumer demand is unraveling at seemingly warp speeds – according to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales have soared from $11.13 billion in 2004 to $35.95 billion in 2014 – a pace that the store is having difficulty keeping up with. "We cannot get enough organics to stay in business day in and day out," Costco CEO Craig Jelinek told investors at a shareholder meeting.

"Lots of discussions going on" between Costco and farmers

Right now, the plan is only in the beginning stages. At the moment, Costco is working with just one partner on this effort with a plan that involves loaning money to help San Diego-based Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce buy equipment as well as more than 1,000 acres of land in
the Mexican state of Baja California.

"By helping them with financing, we got access to and purchased about 145,000 cases of organic
raspberries that we normally would not have access to," said Jeff Lyons, Costco's senior vice president of fresh foods.

Costco has similar future plans in mind, including working with a large group that has operations in Chile and Mexico.

"There are lots of discussions going on," Lyons said. "The challenge for the farmer is: 'We may go down this road and what happens if something bad happens?' We have to make sure we don't get them in a position of financial trouble. We need to make sure the loans are totally secure. If it doesn't work out for them, we want to continue to buy conventional from them to make sure they're A-OK."

Other efforts demonstrate company's desire to provide people with healthier options

Additionally, Costco began working with a Mexican vendor a couple of years ago in an effort to obtain wild shrimp from the Sea of Cortez. Undoubtedly, this move is a necessary one that would enable the company to break away from their role in supplying the demand for – and therefore supporting – slave labor and human trafficking involving shrimp caught in Southeast Asia.

Costco has also taken measures to, shall we say, beef up their supply of organic ground beef; over the past year, they've contracted with organic field owners in Nebraska – and purchased cattle as well – so ranchers there can raise livestock that will help ensure that the company will have a
sufficient supply for their organic ground beef program.

Moving on from negative issues of the past?

Such initiatives may help the company distance themselves from the negative publicity they've attracted. They've been involved in a fair share of eyebrow-raising situations through the years, from their role in supporting slave-labor shrimp processing to responding too slowly about whether or not they would sell GMO salmon (they ultimately opted not to).

They've also faced issues brought on by people with nothing better to do than sue others, as was the case when the family of Robert Harris, who choked and died from a piece of steak given to him as a free sample from a California Costco store, sued Costco.

The fact that Costco has stepped up to the plate to work with farmers in order to meet the growing demand for organic food is certainly commendable. It demonstrates that they're paying attention to the fact that people are concerned about what's in their food supply and that they're steadily gravitating towards organic choices.

On the other hand, it would have been nice if the company had worked with farmers in this manner all along – without the imbalance in organic food supply and customer demand (and store profit) – acting as a key motivator. But at least the initiative is in place in what will hopefully end up being a successful, ongoing farm-to-market effort.

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