Cornucopia News Archive

Organic Industry Watchdog Asks Federal Antitrust Regulators to Monitor the Sale of Hain Pure Protein

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

[Read Cornucopia’s formal request for scrutiny of the sale of HPP]

Poultry Industry Giant Pilgrim’s Pride Makes Preliminary Bid to Acquire Hain Celestial Poultry Processing Interests

The New York Post reported recently that the prominent organic industry conglomerate, The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., said it plans to divest its interests in Hain Pure Protein (HPP). The operating division sells organic and “natural” chicken and turkey products under its Plainville Farms and Freebird brands. The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, sent a formal request to antitrust regulators asking them to scrutinize the sale of HPP, claiming that, depending on who acquires it, the effect would be to harm competition in the already highly concentrated organic poultry  sector.

According to the Post story, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation put in a bid for HPP in June 2018. Pilgrim’s Pride is currently the nation’s largest organic poultry producer. They entered USDA certified organic chicken production in 2016 with the purchase of the parent company of the “Just Bare” chicken brand, GNP Co. Organic chicken comprises 4% of Pilgrim’s chicken production, but with that they control a huge portion of the rapidly growing organic poultry market.

“It is essential that this sale is closely scrutinized,” said Marie Burcham, a farm policy analyst who specializes in looking at livestock issues for the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. “As Pilgrim’s Pride is the current industry leader, its potential purchase of Hain Pure Protein raises serious antitrust and anticompetitive concerns.” Read Full Article »

Pioneering Leader in Organic Food Production Resigns from Industry Lobby Group

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Nature’s Path’s move “protests” betrayals by the Organic Trade Association

The widely respected and leading organic breakfast foods manufacturer, Nature’s Path, announced the company’s resignation from membership in the Organic Trade Association (OTA), a prominent and increasingly controversial lobby group representing business interest in the industry.  The announcement came in a letter to the organic community last week.

The OTA has been increasingly criticized for representing the interests of corporate agribusiness at the expense of core values held by farmers, consumers, and founding business leaders.

Arran Stephens, Co-CEO
Nature’s Path

“Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness of our concerns that the important role organic plays in support of the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised,” said Arran Stephens, a company founder and co-CEO.

Stephens cited concerns about the OTA’s role in brokering a GMO labeling “compromise” in Congress that resulted in federal law preempting states, like Vermont which had legislation ready to go into effect, from passing regulations mandating the labeling of food produced through genetic engineering.

Nature’s Path is not the first iconic organic manufacturer and marketer to leave the OTA in protest. Dr. Bronner’s withdrew from the OTA after the GMO labeling debacle in Congress citing “a general drift away from the core principles that drive the organic movement.” Read Full Article »

They’re Back … The 10,000 Pound Gorilla in “Organic” Imports

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Turkey’s Tiryaki and Diasub appear to be back in the U.S. market with a new certifier

Tiryaki Agro Gida Sanayi v Ticaret A.S. (“Tiryaki”), a multibillion dollar agribusiness giant, and its wholly owned organic division, Diasub, FZE, now appear to be officially back in the organic grain imports market with a new USDA accredited certifier.

Tiryaki and Diasub surrendered their certifications to their previous certifier, EcoCert, SA. Diasub surrendered its certification most recently on May 15, 2018.  An anonymous industry participant has provided Cornucopia with what appears to be new organic certificates issued to Tiryaki and Diasub by Control Union Certifications.  Tiryaki’s organic certificate is effective May 28, 2018 and Diasub’s is effective June 1, 2018.

We have contacted Control Union requesting confirmation and copies of Tiryaki’s and Diasub’s certificates. Even though the certifier is obligated, under federal law, to supply these, they have yet to respond.

At the time of this writing, the USDA National Organic Program’s Integrity Database, which houses information related to certified operations, continues to show Tiryaki and Diasub as uncertified companies having surrendered their organic certifications. The database indicates that the NOP last updated Diasub’s status on June 19, 2018 and Tiryaki’s on June 26, 2018. Read Full Article »

Mark Kastel on Facebook Live: Organic Grain Import Fraud

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Cornucopia has recently released the white paper, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market, chronicling how a small number of multibillion dollar agribusinesses came to dominate the U.S. organic grain industry.

Cornucopia Codirector Mark Kastel went live today on Facebook to discuss failures in USDA oversight on organic grain imports that has been incredibly harmful to U.S. organic grain farmers.

You can watch it here:

Read Full Article »

Looking at Fraud: Industry Watchdog Releases Comprehensive Report Documenting Suspicious Organic Grain Imports

Monday, June 18th, 2018

[Read Cornucopia’s letter to Sec. Perdue and the white paper, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market]

Failures in USDA Oversight Rendered U.S. Markets Vulnerable to Fraud by Eastern European Cartels

Some Implicated Major Players Quietly Exit Market

An organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, has released a groundbreaking, comprehensive report chronicling how a small number of multibillion dollar agribusinesses came to dominate the U.S. organic grain industry following the systemic failures of the USDA’s National Organic Program (USDA-NOP) to curb the infiltration of questionable organic grain imports.

25,000 metric tons of “organic” corn,
sold by Tiryaki and shipped on the M/V Mountpark,
were rejected at a California port in April 2018.
Image courtesy of VesselFinder/Cengiz Tokgöz

During the latter part of Cornucopia’s two-year investigation, it appears that the two largest players in importing feed grains into the U.S., Turkey-based Tiryaki Agro Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S (“Tiryaki”) and its wholly owned organic division, Diasub, FZE, have quietly “surrendered” their organic certification, reducing their exposure (it should be noted that many of their corporate affiliates remain in good standing with the USDA).

Cornucopia’s report finds that the U.S. became a dumping ground for imports of fraudulent organic corn, soybeans, and other commodities after the European Union cracked down on abuses originating in former Soviet Bloc countries including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, and Russia.  What makes this particularly problematic is that imports now make up the majority of feed grains fed to domestic certified organic livestock.

“With industry experts estimating that over 50% of organic corn and 80-90% of soybeans are being imported, there is speculation that if the USDA, at this point, wakes up to do their job, feed shortages in the organic marketplace could occur,” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector of The Cornucopia Institute. Read Full Article »