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In This Issue:
- POLICY: USDA Moves to Close Gaping Loopholes in Organic Marketing with New Rules, Big Busts
- Retail Services Giant Trax Seems to Have Quietly Acquired Gotham Brands
- FANCY FOOD SHOW: Tatu Protein Water Builds Slowly Out of Oregon
POLICY: USDA Moves to Close Gaping Loopholes in Organic Marketing with New Rules, Big Busts USDA this week has taken what some say is long-overdue – and maybe still insufficient – steps to protect integrity of organic certification via combo of tuffer rules and high-visibility busts of those accused of defrauding customers with falsely labeled items. So-called Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule posted in Federal Register “represents the biggest change to organic regulations since the creation of USDA’s National Organic Program” in 1990, per Organic Trade Assn. “The rule closes gaps in current organic regulations and builds consistent certification practices to prevent fraud and improve the transparency and traceability of organic products. Fraud in the organic system – wherever it occurs – harms the entire organic sector and shakes the trust of consumers in organic.” Rules are effective Mar 20 with 1-year grace period for compliance.
On enforcement front, as Washington Post reported, “two Minnesota farmers were charged in connection with an alleged plan to sell more than $46 million in chemically treated crops as organic between 2014 and 2021,” just a month after DOJ brought indictments involving scheme to “export nonorganic soybeans from Eastern Europe to be sold into the United States as certified organic” at added markup of 50%. In early 2021, USDA ceased US/India organic recognition pact because fraud was so rampant among purportedly organic items sourced from country. But as rule makes clear, fraud is not only problem. “One of the most common risks to the integrity of an organic product is mishandling—when an entity unintentionally compromises the unique attributes that make a product organic,” problem that’s increased as organic supply chains have gotten longer and more complex.
Rule closes gaps in current organic regulations and builds consistent certification practices to prevent fraud and improve transparency and traceability of organic products. Among key features, it delves into more layers of trade in recognition of all the stages at which compliance can go awry.
Retail Services Giant Trax Seems to Have Quietly Acquired Gotham Brands The NY-based merchandising & brand building firm Gotham Brands has quietly been acquired by fast-growing Trax in recent months, putting global resources of Singapore-based co behind 12-yr-old co founded by former Nestle Waters exec Trent Moffat a dozen years ago. As far as we can see, no announcement has been made yet but new allies jointly attended BevNet Live conference last month and hosted Wall Street event this past Wed featuring range of up & coming brands. Coupla clients of the two also have confirmed transaction occurred. Trax has been on acquisition tear in recent years, including pickup of Salesforce.com, as it builds out comprehensive suite of tools to support marketers. “We know how tough it is to get on the shelf, and keeping that momentum is an incredibly challenging thing,” per website. “At Trax, we’re here to help fast-growing brands like YOU seize every opportunity with actionable shelf data, on-demand merchandisers and full-funnel shopper engagement all in a single platform,” backed by cutting-edge tech like computer vision and machine learning. As for Gotham, it’s carved out key role, now on national basis, within emerging merchandising services segment, helping brands from startups to La Croix navigate nooks & crannies of retail, even without DSD in mix. It’s not clear where Gotham has been installed within broad Trax org but one possibility would seem to be Trax Dynamic Merchandising, which “actively and intelligently flexes to your needs at speed . . . scales effortlessly, shelf issues are identified real time, and merchandisers are mobilized in days, not weeks.” The new partners aren’t ready to comment yet on deal.
FANCY FOOD SHOW: Tatu Protein Water Builds Slowly Out of Oregon Portland, Ore-based entrepreneur is latest to offer a protein water under brand name Tatu, with a formulation assist from highly regarded program at Oregon State Univ run by Sarah Masoni. The entry is going out in 12-oz slim can containing 15 g of protein from grassfed whey isolate but no sugar, thanks to monk fruit and stevia sweetener blend. They come in at 60 calories. Cofounder Jacoba Gundle, who comes out of ecology field and serves as coo, told us she’s taking it slow, seeding brand in Portland area over past year at groceries, gyms and yoga studios while gauging market response. The items are offered in Lemon & Ginger and Orange & Mango flavors and go out at $3.99 in single cans and $14.99 per 4-pk. They’re being copacked at Newport shop in Anaheim, Calif. Gundle’s partner in launch is climate finance specialist Sean Penrith, Tatu’s ceo. They operate as Mindful Proteins Inc from Vancouver, Wash, just across river from PDX.
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