Food and product labels can be confusing—and inaccurate. As a manufacturer or consumer, you want to feel good about the ingredients you’re purchasing and the impact they have on the environment. But, believe it or not, the labeling you depend on may not always mean what you think. This is especially true with the term “organic.”
Organic products have skyrocketed in popularity and gained consumer demand over recent years. Data from Packaged Facts National Consumer Surveys and Simmons Profile Reports reveal that the consumption of organic foods climbed to nearly 30%, while consumers who specifically seek out organic foods grew by 5% between 2010 and 2017.
However, with the rising demand for organic products, there is also a rising number of organic designations. Not all uses of the word “organic” on packaging mean the same thing. Here are the most common organic labels and the meaning behind each:
The harsh reality is when a product is labeled “organic,” it doesn’t have any significant meaning. It is very easy for producers, marketers and manufacturers to put the word “organic” on packaging, even though there are no certifications that a company must undergo to achieve this designation. Be wary of non-certified, organic-labeled products as they have no standard requirements behind their claims. Though we’d like to assume every company holds itself to the highest ethical standard, this organic claim is not always backed up.
Another label commonly found on products is “Organic Process,” which means that the product’s source ingredients aren’t organic, but the process to develop the product is. With “Organic Process” labeled products, all chemicals used in the production process are certified organic. The organic process distinction often surprises manufacturers and consumers alike, as it’s believed they are purchasing a thoroughly organic product, when in reality, the product or ingredient itself is not organic and was not grown or sourced organically.
USDA Organic products must be certified through a rigorous documentation process. A product must meet federal regulations to carry the official USDA Organic seal and pass through the strictest series of guidelines for a food labeling program. In order to be USDA certified organic, the producer or handler develops an organic system plan, detailing how their operation will comply with regulations, and sometimes producers won’t use their fields for up to two years to wash out all of the pesticides. Instead of using fertilizer, growers use all-natural processes and additives, if any at all. There is a strict certification process the products must undergo, guaranteeing the organic designation’s legitimacy.
Why it Matters
With all of the different organic designations in the market, it is vital to know what you, as a consumer or manufacturer, are purchasing. Consumers and manufacturers alike should only pay a premium for a certified product or ingredient, and should understand what the organic label actually means.
At Viachem, we are committed to providing specialty ingredients and products that you can trust. We have USDA certified organic offerings in food and beverage and in personal care, including erythritol, pea protein, stevia, monk fruit, glycerin and guar gum. Each of these products is available as certified organic or in conventional, non-organic forms. Our USDA certified organic, plant-based novel bulk sweetener, erythritol, is the first and only polyol that can claim to be natural due to its process and raw materials. To learn more about our certified organic products or to receive a sample, contact our team today at [email protected].