For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s All About Organics page.
As the co-founder and chief executive for Organic Valley, a La Farge, Wisconsin-based cooperative that is the largest provider of organic milk in the United States, Siemon is on the hunt for new offerings for a growing market.
The latest idea – milk from cows that primarily eat grasses, but never corn, soybeans or other supplemental grains commonly fed to dairy and beef cattle – was launched in April and is available in 200 stores in six western U.S. states. The milk has an earthy flavor that is a twist for the milk market.
Though it is too soon to tell how the new milk will be received, Siemon has high hopes. In the United States, most of the corn and soybeans fed to livestock are genetically modified, a fact that doesn’t sit well with organic enthusiasts, particularly Siemon.
“Our co-op is very concerned about the development of biotechnology,” he said in a recent interview. “We don’t agree that is the right path.”
Grassmilk, he said is still experimental, but adds to the organic industry arsenal. “It’s a new thing we started in California,” he said. It tastes different. But it’s good.” In addition to California, grassmilk is available in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico.
Increasing consumer demand for new organic products has helped push the rapid growth of organics on U.S. grocery store shelves. The retail value of the entire U.S. organic industry grew almost 9.5 percent in 2011 to $31.4 billion, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Organic foods continue to gain market share, climbing to more than 4 percent of U.S. retail food sales, USDA data shows.