Organic News of the Week Organic Sales Growth Down to Seven Percent in ’09; “Natural” Claims Compete

The "natural" food phenomenon worries many in the organic industry. So-called “natural” products aren’t regulated and don’t have to meet any special standards, so they can be marketed more cheaply than genuine certified organic food. Many formerly organic brands are trying to fool consumers into thinking natural and organic are the same.

Early this year, for instance, WhiteWave Foods added “natural” Silk soy milk to its line of organic products. This summer, WhiteWave (a unit of Dean Foods) broadened its Horizon line of organic products with its first “natural” offering: Little Blends, a yogurt for toddlers. In August, it began test-marketing Milk Breakers, a six-ounce single serving of “natural” milk with added protein.

This year, for the first time since at least 2004, sales of ‘€œnatural’€ foods and beverages will likely grow at a faster rate than sales of organic foods, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

The organic industry is fighting back. In September, Organic Valley will debut an online calculator that lets consumers see how many chemicals they avoid by using organic milk.

‘€œWe’€™re holding on when some other sectors are sinking,’€ says Theresa Marquez, chief marketing executive for Organic Valley. ‘€œOur future is organic.’€