Crossposted at The Cornucopia Institute.
CORNUCOPIA, WI It's not often that family-scale farmers can go toe-to-toe with a $12 billion agribusiness and come out victors. But organic soybean producers, and a modestly scaled but powerful ally, The Cornucopia Institute, are claiming victory over Dean Foods in the organic marketplace.
Dean Foods, the manufacturer of Silk, the top-selling soymilk drink, was first "outed" in Cornucopia's May 2009 report, Behind the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry, for switching its soybean sourcing from American farms to cheaper organic beans from China. Later in 2009, Cornucopia revealed that Dean Foods had then largely abandoned organic soybeans altogether, stealthily changing the soybeans in their core Silk product line from organic to less expensive conventionally grown soybeans that the company was calling "natural."
The shift away from organic outraged many loyal consumers and alienated retailers across the country that were not informed of the change and continued to inaccurately merchandise Silk products as "organic."
Now leading natural/organic foods retailer Whole Foods Market has decided to shift its soymilk offerings back towards organic. Saying that its relationship with Dean Foods had "chilled," Whole Foods indicated it was bringing in a new branded organic soymilk partner, Earth Balance. The national retailer also told the Denver Post, in an August 27 story, that it wanted Earth Balance's soymilk products to contain only domestically grown soybeans carrying the organic label.