Organic Trade Association Launching New Fraud Deterrence Program

Washington, D.C. – The Organic Trade Association (OTA) wants to prevent and detect fraud in the global organic industry.

A year in the making, the OTA will launch the three month pilot program this June, according to an industry press release.  It is composed of 48 OTA members – called the Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity (GOSCI) Task Force – and is designed specifically for the organic industry. Their first order of business was to create a “best practices” guide for the industry; it describes the industry-wide implementation of systems and measures to preserve the integrity of organic, both inside and outside of the United States.

“Organic now operates in a global market. Fraud is one of the biggest threats to that market, and it cannot be tolerated in the organic system,” says Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the OTA.

“Everyone has a role and responsibility to detect and deter fraud. I commend the Organic Trade Association members participating in the pilot for the commitment to doing everything in their power to address the problem and taking the lead in finding a constructive and workable solution,” Batcha continues.

Participating in the pilot project are 11 members of the GOSCI Task Force; they represent the entire organic supply chain, from farm to retailer and a diverse range of products, services and commodities including fresh produce, grain, spices, dairy, eggs, meat, beverages, packaged and prepared foods, importers and consulting services. Pilot participants are:

  • Clarkson Grain Company, Inc. (handler/processor/feed grains/oil seeds)
  • Egg Innovations, LLC  (producer/handler/eggs, livestock feed)
  • Global Organics Ltd. (handler/importer)
  • Grain Millers, Inc. (handler/processor/grains)
  • I Was Thinking (importer/handler/co-packer, grains, seeds, legumes, sweeteners)
  • MOM’s Organic Market (retailer)
  • Organically Grown Company (distributor/produce)
  • Organic Valley CROPP Cooperative (producer/handler/livestock/dairy/meat)
  • Pipeline Foods, LLC (handler/supply chain solutions/feed grains/oilseeds)
  • J.M. Smucker Company (processor/multi-ingredient)
  • True Organic Products, Inc. (manufacturer/fertilizer)

Participants will “test drive” the fraud prevention and detection strategies developed by the GOSCI Task Force. They will concentrate on one product or ingredient, or a specific location to run through the pilot program. During the pilot, the participants will seek comments from other stakeholders in their unique supply chain, then share feedback on their experiences and give recommendations on how to improve and strengthen the suggested strategies.

For some of the participants, the mission is a personal one.  Says Rudy Lorenzo, chief operating officer, I Was Thinking, “As a recent victim of organic fraud, I Was Thinking made a business decision to champion organic integrity. Through regular visits to our farmers around the world, IWT is constantly collecting information and educating our producers in an effort to improve organic integrity across the entire supply chain. While we identify problems, we always provide solutions to our growers.”

Collaborating partners in the project are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, the Accredited Certifiers Association, and NSF International. They will review and provide feedback on the recommendations put forth by the task force, as well as provide support on implementation and adoption efforts, as agreed with pilot participants.

As WholeFoods Magazine recently reported, organic sales in the U.S. hit a new record of $49.4 billion in 2017, up 6.4% from the previous year and reflecting new sales of nearly $3.5 billion.  The organic food market hit $45.2 billion in sales, also breaking through to a new record for an increase of 6.4%. Sales of organic non-food products rose by 7.4% to $4.2 billion, setting another new benchmark.