It seems that Costco can’t get enough organic fruit and vegetables to supply its customers; and is now bypassing its competitor Whole Foods with a whopping $4 billion in its annual organic sales. In a bid to assist the supply to their warehouses, Costco is lending money to farmers to help them purchase land and equipment to grow more organic produce.
Costco CEO Craig Jelinek told investors in Washington earlier this year “We cannot get enough organics to stay in business day in and day out.”
The financial assistance for organic farmers is only a pilot program and still in its infancy, reports the Seattle Times. At this stage, they’re working with one partner, a San-Diego based Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce purchase a further 1,200 acres of land.
But Costco is hopeful that the project will be expanded for future farmers if successful. Long-term contracts and advance payments to organic farmers may soon be an initiative of the future as Costco struggles to keep up with customer demand in an era plagued by uncertain GMO production.
Costco has also led the way in similar schemes. Two years ago it worked with a Mexican vendor who initially relied on shrimp caught in Thailand, to diversify. Now, the vendor gets their shrimp from the Sea of Cortez, rather than the Thai fishing industry where slave labor is prevalent.
In 2015, Costco started the contracting process with Nebraskan owners of organic fields. After purchasing cattle, they’re now encouraging ranchers to raise the livestock, ensuring a supply for its organic ground-beef program, Seattle Times reports.
Costco’s initiative is a step in the right direction, but Organic Trade Association spokeswoman Angela Jagiello said “demand is increasing. But we’re not seeing the same level of farmland.” Something that may have to do with the ever increasing stronghold Monsanto and the like have over agriculture.
It’s forcing food chains to buy their own land to produce what they need for their consumers, including Nature’s Path Foods Inc. and Pacific Foods, Wall Street Journal reports.
Ultimately, this move has been driven by consumers demanding a healthier choice. Establishing a sustainably grown organic agriculture again, is speaking volumes against Big Ag companies.
Ronnie Cummins, the international director of the Organic Consumers Association stated its “a transition we have to make if we’re going to address the multiple crises of declining health, declining local economies, [and] declining biodiversity.”
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