Washington, D.C.—In what is being called a “historic investment,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $78 million available annually for the development of regional and local food systems. The operations eligible to receive funds include food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services and other local food business enterprises.
The organic food industry achieved its fastest growth rate in five years in 2013, says a new survey from the Organic Trade Association (OTA). An 11.5% jump saw the industry reach $35.1 billion in sales, up from $31.5 billion in 2012. The growth is set to continue, according to OTA, as the Organic Industry Survey projects that this rate will at least be matched and possibly exceeded over the next two years.
Manhattan, MT—Gluten-Free Prairie Bakery, co-owned by husband and wife Rick and Deb Wheaton and their son Jeremy, were in preparation to open their new healthy, gluten-free bakery in March. Two weeks before opening day, the store was flooded with the basement entirely under water, damaging the floors and the equipment stored in it.
Nunda, NY—Over 21,000 pounds of peanut butter were donated in April to the charity Feed the Children by seed and nut butter manufacturer Once Again Nut Butter. The 44 drums of peanut butter, weighing in at 480 pounds each, are being put to use in supporting victims of natural disasters in the Philippines and elsewhere.
Leicester, England—Soil in urban farming allotments is healthier, and therefore better for farming, than more intensively farmed soils, according to recent research. The study, conducted in the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the benefits of local, small-scale farming.
In a move sure to stir up the sector, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has debuted Wild Oats, a line featuring low-cost organic food products. The move represents a partnership between Wal-Mart and Wild Oats, a preexisting brand, which will see around 100 products hit the shelves of every Walmart store that sells groceries.
Montpelier, VT—The Vermont legislature overwhelmingly passed a law requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to say so on the label. The state’s governor, Peter Shumlin, vowed to sign the bill, which will become the first to independently require GMO labeling in the country. Connecticut and Maine have passed similar laws, but those will only take effect once neighboring states also pass GMO-labeling laws.
Washington, D.C.—Providing the big picture and some compelling statistics for the specialty food space is a new report published by the Specialty Food Association. Sales are up and growing almost across the board, and specialty foods are grabbing market share from conventional foods, according to the report.