Wholesome, which makes fair trade, organic candy and sweeteners, is working hard to make sure that customers will continued to be supplied with its products in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. This, despite its locations in Texas and on Florida’s east coast. “We have been closely monitoring the storms and taking appropriate action,” Wholesome® CEO Olu Beck said. “Our dedicated team is working to develop distribution alternatives for our organic sugars, sweeteners, candies and frostings as needed. At this time, we believe our core distribution will not be affected for most of the country.”
“We want to thank all of the first responders and volunteers who have been working around the clock,” Beck said. “Our thoughts are with our employees, customers, suppliers – and their friends and families – who have been affected or may be impacted by these hurricanes.”
Hurricane Harvey Had Minimal Impact on Supply
Wholesome core business operations and product distribution services have been largely unaffected by Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding. However, the company’s Sugar Land, Texas administrative office was flooded. All local staff members are safe and accounted for and business operations will continue as normal from a temporary location until the office reopens. The effects of Irma’s impact on Florida are still being assessed but the company anticipates only minor delays, as business operations were largely unaffected.
As Wholesome’s raw materials are primarily sourced from fair trade, non-GMO, organic growers in Central and South America, the company does not expect supply to be impacted. The company has implemented business continuity plans to source distribution from its network of warehouses throughout the country.
Wholesome has donated $10,000 and more than 25,000 bags of candy to support Harvey recovery efforts coordinated by Feeding Texas. This organization – together with other relief agencies – has been instrumental in providing assistance to people in need. Contributions are being accepted at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/harvey-food-relief.
Twenty-five percent of the Millennials in America are parents. In the next 10 to 15 years, 80 percent of Millennials will be moms and dads. What this means for the organic market could be transformative.
A new and expanded survey on the organic attitude of U.S. families released September 14 by the Organic Trade Association shows that Millennials are big buyers of organic, and that becoming a parent will only deepen the strong affinity for organic shared by this powerful generation.
“Millennials are the largest consumer group in the United States, and they’re choosing organic. As more members of this generation become parents, their presence in the organic market will just get stronger,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “This year’s survey findings clearly show the positive relationship between organic and parenting. Exciting times lie ahead for the organic sector. Over the next 10 years, we’ll see a surge of new organic eaters and consumers — the Millennial parents of tomorrow and their children.”
For the first time in the eight-year history of the survey, the 2017 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Behaviors Study included households without children. Last year’s survey studied generational buying habits of U.S. households, and found that Millennial parents – parents in the 18- to 35-year-old age range — are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America. This year’s study goes even deeper and looks at the organic attitudes and buying habits of today’s Millennial without children.
Today’s definition of a family includes a diverse combination of household members, and this year’s survey reflects that. The study segmented the population in three household composition categories: (1) Millennials without children, (2) Millennials with children and (3) Parents aged 36 – 64 years.
The Connection Between Organic and Parenting
Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. Having children shifts our values, priorities and even our buying behaviors. And so it is with the organic consumer. The survey shows that the heavy buyer of organic – the consumer who always or most of the time chooses organic — is driven by a strong belief that selecting organic for their family makes them a better parent. That buyer is actively seeking out healthy, nutritious choices for themselves and their children – that’s the number one motivator for this group when choosing food, followed by the product being organic.
Concerns about the effects of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics on an individual’s health and the health of that individual’s children, along with the desire to avoid highly processed foods and artificial ingredients for the family were also top reasons to buy organic.
Baby food ranked as the top category for which respondents said that buying organic is extremely important, surpassing the fruits and vegetables category for the first time in the history of the survey. Food targeted to kids was also among the categories most important for buying organic.
And the parenting kids receive also shapes their buying habits as adults. Heavy buyers of organic – whether Millennials with or without children — are much more likely to have been raised eating organic foods and being taught to make organic choices. Today’s organic buyers with children are already passing their organic habits on to the next generation, and so will the Millennial parents-to-be.
Online and Meal Kits
Today’s organic buyers are younger, and digital technology is an integral part of their daily lives.
More Millennials shop for groceries online than older parents (40 percent vs. 30 percent). Online grocery shopping is still in its early stages, but the survey revealed that attitudes regarding online grocery shopping point to a bright future for organic. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they like the quality of organic produce purchased online, 17 percent said online grocery shopping is a convenient and easy way to shop organic, and 10 percent reported an increase in organic purchases because of online shopping. This all suggests that online shopping has strong potential for increasing organic consumption among U.S. families.
Millennial parents use digital sources of information to learn about new products – online product reviews, blog posts and mobile apps — more frequently than older parents who prefer traditional information sources like commercials, coupons, and recommendations from friends. The Millennial device of choice is the smartphone versus other mobile or desktop computer devices.
As with online grocery shopping, Millennial parents are much more likely to purchase or use online meal kits than older parents (37 percent versus 27 percent). And while all groups liked the idea of getting meal kits as a gift, the Millinnial without kids was the most enthusiastic about that concept.
“Americans are eating more organic than ever before. Organic sales reached nearly $50 billion last year, driven in large part by the Millennial consumer,” said Batcha. “Millennials having children over the next 10 – 15 years are projected to be a generation of highly engaged organic consumers. Our continually expanding knowledge about Millennials will help us inform this important generation of consumers and give these future parents the necessary tools to enable them to make the best choices for their families.”
The Organic Trade Association has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct surveys of the organic buying patterns of households since 2009. The study reflects responses of more than 1,800 households throughout the country consisting of individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 years old. Responses were collected online between May 22, 2017, and June 7, 2017.
Seventh Generation has become the 100th company to commit to climate action through the Climate Collaborative, a project of OSC2 and the Sustainable Food Trade Association launched in March of 2017 to catalyze bold action on climate change among natural products companies.
The Vermont-based, leading natural cleaning and personal care products company has been prioritizing climate action for decades and has a company-wide goal of sourcing all energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020. The company made its announcement in Baltimore on September 14 along with additional climate commitments in packaging, renewable energy, policy engagement, and energy efficiency via the Climate Collaborative, joining more than 20 other companies in announcing new climate action commitments.
“Seventh Generation has always believed that business can serve as a powerful force for change,” said Ashley Orgain, Director of Mission Advocacy at Seventh Generation. “We’re proud to join the Climate Collaborative in ensuring our planet is protected for future generations. In an era when the federal government is moving in the wrong direction, we pledge to continue to do our part to ensure a just and speedy transition to a low carbon economy, supporting progressive policies that put a price on carbon pollution.”
Spurred by growing consumer demand for action on climate and by the U.S.’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement—as well as increasing recognition that climate change mitigation efforts are good for their bottom lines—natural products companies are committing to climate action far faster than expected, allowing the Climate Collaborative to exceed its Year One goal in less than six months. This growing list of leading companies in the industry includes Annie’s, Clif, Dr. Bronner’s, Happy Family, National Co+op Grocers, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley, Guayaki, Lotus Foods, Stonyfield, DanoneWave, and many more.
Companies in the industry have made over 400 commitments to climate action to date—to integrate carbon farming into their supply chains, switch to renewable power, reduce the climate impacts of their packaging, remove deforestation from their supply chains, engage on climate policy, and more. Companies like Clif are going one step further and engaging companies in their supply chain to take action, as well.
Robynn Shrader, CEO of National Co+op Grocers stated “Through the Climate Collaborative, our industry is once again demonstrating that when we come together on an issue, we work quickly towards success. The fact that 100 companies have already stepped up in just six months shows that our industry not only recognizes the urgency for action, but is also willing to invest the time, energy and money needed to make meaningful progress on the climate challenge, the most consequential issue we’ve tackled yet.”
These commitments demonstrate that acting on climate is an urgent priority for the natural products industry and highlights the growing trend of corporate leadership on climate change. The recently released BSR State of Sustainable Business Survey by Globe Scan puts climate change as the number one sustainability priority (tied with human rights) of the 300 businesses surveyed, with 73 percent of respondents identifying it as a significant priority—a dramatic increase in prominence over recent years.
In the coming months, the Climate Collaborative will be expanding its programming to assist companies taking action with initiatives like its new carbon farming action group. The Collaborative aims to give an ever-growing number of companies the strategic connections, information, and practical solutions they need to accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change, minimizing the risk it poses to their businesses, and enabling them to take advantage of all the benefits that early action offers.