Natural foods manufacturer NOW Foods has made the commitment to have over 170 products – its entire food line - non-GMO by the end of 2013.
The Bloomingdale, IL-based company currently has approximately 50 items that are Non-GMO Project approved, said David Rosenberg, Food Category Manager, NOW Foods.
“Our entire food line of 170+ products will be non-GMO by the end of the year although certification will be longer,” he said.
Products including its NOW Foods BetterStevia, NOW Real Food, NOW Real Tea and Living Now will be non-GMO. The company confirmed that it already has the necessary documentation for all non-GMO food line products in its inventory, but verification from The Non-GMO Project will provide additional validation that the ingredients used have been independently verified.
Rosenberg added that the company has received a mixed response from its suppliers about going non-GMO. "Some are very supportive and understand our challenges and some simply don’t have the available supply yet to meet our needs," he said. "We are working with existing and new suppliers to meet our non-GMO goals."
The switch to non-GMO may also cause a price increase for some items due to limited availability, added Rosenberg. "When possible and available, we prefer to switch to organic, which may be more expensive but has additional benefits. This has been an ongoing trend for our food line for a few years now."
The company, which distributes its food products internationally at thousands of health food stores and online, remains a strong supporter of non-GMO initiatives, and already provides scientific experts to serve on the Non-GMO Project’s Technical Advisory Board.
NOW Foods also supports national and uniform labeling of GMO foods and works with industry groups on finding feasible ways to achieve this, it added.
Over $3.5 billion in sales
US retail sales of non-GMO foods and beverages are predicted to represent 30% of the market with a value of $264bn in 2017, according to Packaged Facts, and the market is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.9% in the next five years.
However, should GMO labeling become mandatory, non-GMO sales could account for up to 40% of the market by 2017.
At the forefront of the labeling initiative is the Non-GMO Project, which was launched in 2010. Verified product sales carrying the label recently exceeded $3.5 billion, and the Non-GMO Project has gone from 194 verification program enrollment inquiries in the second quarter of 2012 to 797 inquiries during the same period this year.
Megan Westgate , Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, recently stated that the Board of Directors had decided that the time had come to train more certification bodies to be Technical Administrators (TA’s) for the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program.
“In the past, the Non-GMO Project had an exclusive contract with one TA, FoodChain Global Advisors. Going forward, we will establish an accreditation system that makes it possible for any qualified certification body to contract with us as a TA for the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program.”