Originally published May 9 2015
Nature's Path purchases its own clean, organic farms to keep up with demand for food free of GMOs and chemicals
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) One of North America's cleanest and most sustainable food brands has taken a giant leap forward in securing the future of organic food production. Cereal company Nature's Path Organic has reportedly purchased 2,800 acres of farmland in Montana to keep up with growing consumer demand for foods that are free of chemical pesticides, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), preservatives, antibiotics and other toxins.
Frustrated by a lack of steady supply for organic cereal grains, Nature's Path decided to take matters into its own hands by capturing a key element of the supply chain: the farms where grains are grown. The company reportedly spent more than $2 million to purchase the land in Montana, which it will eventually use to grow chemical-free organic wheat, oats, and other cereal ingredients to keep up with demand.
Nature's Path says constant supply constraints have been one of the biggest problems hampering its growth as a company over the past decade, during which time consumer demand for organic food has skyrocketed. Efforts to ramp up organic food output from its existing suppliers weren't enough, says the company, so it had to think outside the box and take an unconventional approach that some industry experts feel will likely become more common within the organic food industry.
"We just want to secure our own future," stated Nature's Path founder Arran Stephens about the company's somewhat unusual purchase decision.
Many other organic companies will likely follow Nature's Path in purchasing their own farms Lack of supply is becoming increasingly common within the organic food industry as companies strive to provide more organic food to consumers while some farmers are still hesitant to grow it. Organic food is unsubsidized by the government, which means it tends to cost more to produce, and ensuring a payoff from an organic investment is a bit more tricky compared to simply growing conventional crops.
Converting conventional cropland to organic also takes time - anywhere from one to three years, or even longer - during which time farmers are required to grow their crops using organic methods but can only sell them for conventional prices. This can be a difficult pill to swallow, which is why companies like Nature's Path, Chipotle, Hain Celestial, Pacific Foods and others are opting instead to just grow their own.
"You can have great brands and great products, but if you don't have supply of [agricultural] products, you're going to be in trouble," says Irwin Simon, chief executive of the publicly traded Hain Celestial Group Inc., which owns organic and natural food brands such as Earth's Best and Health Valley.
As far as Nature's Path is concerned, the company plans to invest $2 million annually to purchase increasingly more conventional cropland on which to grow its own organic crops. The company says it will contract with farmers to manage the land, taking one third of the crop at no cost and buying the rest at market price.
"From producing the first USDA certified organic cereals, to buying up farmland in order to convert it to organic, to supporting outreach to organic farmers, to installing an organic garden at our corporate headquarters in Richmond BC, Arran has worked to keep organic advocacy at the forefront of our company's mission," reads the Nature's Path organic history page on its website.
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