Building a Non-GMO Supply Chain

Market demand is creating opportunities for non-GMO ingredient manufacturers

With demand for Non-GMO Project (NGP) Verified products increasing comes the need for more Verified ingredients. For ingredient suppliers, making the shift to non-GMO ingredients signals an entry into the burgeoning Non-GMO Project Verified market.

blog-Captain-DrakeSince the debut of Non-GMO Project Verified label in 2007, availability of Verified ingredients has steadily been on the rise. But sourcing such ingredients easily wasn’t always the case. For example, consider citric acid. In the early days of the Non-GMO Project, companies seeking to verify products containing more than a trace level of citric acid had difficulty, since so few ingredient suppliers were willing and able to demonstrate compliance. That changed in fall 2014 when Minneapolis-based Captain Drake verified its cane sugar-derived citric acid working with technical administrator FoodChain ID. Since then, the company has experienced rapid growth.

“We have seen an explosion in growth for Non-GMO Project Verified products,” said Mark Anderson, president of Captain Drake.

Opening Doors

Why have some ingredient manufacturers been slow to pursue verification given the obvious advantages? Cost is often given as a reason. But while non-GMO inputs can be more expensive than conventional ones, the potentials in sales increases can be significant.

For business owners like Dan Masters of Hiland Naturals Feed, which has offered NGP-Verified livestock feed since 2012, verification has opened doors. His customer base grew rapidly, as ranchers and farmers sought the Verified feed needed for their non-GMO eggs, milk, and other products. By 2015, Hiland Naturals had become the largest U.S. producer of Non-GMO Project Verified livestock feeds, offering bagged products in nearly every U.S. state and globally online.

Some ingredient suppliers express privacy and security concerns — that the verification process will disclose proprietary formulations and trade secrets. In fact, no proprietary information is ever released, since the verification process is protected by non-disclosure agreement. To further assure security, FoodChain ID uses a secure, encrypted database, SupplyTrak, for all enrollee data. Data is accessible only to the client-designated contacts, the Non-GMO Project, and FoodChain ID staff working to get the supplier verified.

What Finished Product Manufacturers Can Do

FoodChain ID encourages product manufacturers to introduce their suppliers to the opportunity of Non-GMO Project verification by pointing out the advantages this rapidly growing, profitable market. In addition, they can make purchase contract commitments.

In this era of immediate communications, word travels fast — including word of a new Non-GMO Project Verified ingredient and its producer who stands to benefit. Ingredient suppliers can wield great influence, since they are closer to the base of the global supply chain. Their involvement in non-GMO options permeates throughout, creating awareness and opportunities.

‘Re-sourcing’

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For finished product manufacturers who use ingredient suppliers who must, due to their own business requirements, continue to offer high GMO-risk products, there is the option of reformulating using non-GMO Verified alternatives. Many non-GMO ingredients can be found on the Non-GMO Project website, which can be steps on the road to earning the seal.

Whether finished product manufacturer or ingredient supplier, once Verified, either can take advantage of free marketing offered by the Non-GMO Project in their website listings, articles, client case studies, referrals, and press releases.

Preparing for the Future

As mainstream brands such as General Mills, Ben & Jerry’s, Chipotle, Hershey’s and others enter the non-GMO marketplace, ingredient suppliers are advised to take note. Demand is growing for non-GMO foods. This is true even in institutional settings such as schools, hospitals and fast-serve restaurants. What had been a niche market is now heading into the mainstream.

Undertaking Non-GMO Project Verification for ingredient manufacturers, either directly with the Non-GMO Project or alongside a finished product manufacturer, is an opportunity that opens up playing fields, not only locally but globally. For more information, contact a FoodChain ID enrollment specialist at enroll@foodchainid.com or (866) 440-3242.