Two-egg brands are generally larger vertically integrated operations and/or they purchase eggs from multiple farmers (or work with farmers on a contract basis supplying the chickens, feed and management oversight). Based on our analysis a number of them do not appear to meet the minimum USDA standards for legal outdoor access (although compliance might vary and you should look at the narrative regarding the brand). All these brands lose credit for not being fully transparent with Cornucopia researchers, and indirectly their organic community customers (Note: please see score on disclosure rate below – the score on this question also relates to their willingness to have their farms open to our inspection and/or supply required photographs of all four sides of each chicken coop producing their eggs).
Note from Cornucopia:
Valley received a limited number of points in terms of its approach to
transparency. Due to some past ethical lapses by management, discovered
and publicized by The Cornucopia Institute, the company was not willing to participate
in this study. Since it very well could represent the largest name
brand in the industry, it was important for us to do additional
research in preparing this report so that Organic Valley could be included. Organic Valley is a farmer-owned
cooperative that primarily produces dairy products. It is highly rated
in our organic dairy study but has lost points in recent years due to
its unwillingness to continue releasing information.
2008, Cornucopia discovered that although Organic Valley maintains high
standards for its family-scale farmers, who produce the lion share of
the cooperative’s organic milk, it had, for well over a year, been
purchasing from a 7,200-cow factory farm in Texas. The industrial dairy
in Texas, that has now grown to approximately 9000 cows, appears to have violated a number of fundamental standards that the co-op
stated were in force for all their dairy producers.
It was announced that purchases
from this dairy were quickly discontinued after Cornucopia brought its
concerns to the farmers who own and oversee the cooperative.
Subsequently, when we published Cornucopia’s organic soy scorecard, we were
forced to deal directly with Organic Valley’s farmers producing
soybeans to obtain detailed information about its operation. Organic
Valley once again received a high rating.
management’s cooperation, the farmers stepped in themselves. If the
individual farmers hadn’t stepped up, the cooperative’s brand, that
they own, could have had its reputation irreparably injured.
similar dynamic took place in our current research on organic eggs. It
has been the farmers who have been open about their
management and production practices and have shared the standards that
the cooperative uses to manage production.
did discover, however, that one of Organic Valley’s “members” supplying
organic eggs is actually an industrial-scale farm in Northern
California that grants no outdoor access to the laying hens. The operation, described in Organic Valley literature as "Stephen Judy's Egg Farm" is in fact Petaluma Farms a large, vertically-integrated agricultural enterprise based in Petaluma, California. Scores
given to Organic Valley on this scorecard therefore factor in the
cooperative’s high standards, for their family-scale members, and the fact that it also markets eggs
from hens with no outdoor access, as well as the unfortunate reality
that its management has attempted to mislead its customers, and even
their farmer-members (with rhetoric on its website and packaging) and
has refused to be open and transparent about its practices, unlike so
many of its competitors.
encourage loyal Organic Valley consumers to contact the company and
encourage it to fully share with our researchers details about how its
eggs are produced. We would be pleased to raise its ratings if we
receive the same cooperation as was offered by the other companies
listed on the scorecard (and the same level of cooperation that Organic Valley management offered when Cornucopia published its first scorecard rating organic dairy brands).