Room for (Organic) Growth

The U.S. Market for Organic Food and Beverages,” a recent study compiled by the International Trade Centre, Geneva, Switzerland, reveals the U.S. is the world's largest market for organic products, with an estimated $9.5 billion in sales in 2001. The report aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the supply situation for organic products, by including detailed information on the U.S. market for organic products, and describing distribution channels and market access.

Predicting continued strong growth in the organic foods industry, particularly impressive increases are expected in soy foods and other meat/dairy alternatives, fiber, and miscellaneous canned and jarred products. Factors influencing the strength of the organic market include elevated consumer awareness of health and environmental issues, increased marketing and promotion by the retail sector, as well as the intensified interest major food manufacturers have in developing organic product lines.

That is not to say the market has no risks. The report highlights the occasional oversupply of a given product, reduced price premiums, insufficient profitability, and other forms of environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture, as factors that may have negative long-term effects on the market as a whole—and on those seeking to enter the organics arena.

Particularly noted in the report is the large U.S. market for organic food additives and supplements. Among the products that could be supplied to the U.S. by many developing countries are: annatto, guar gum, carob gum, alginates and carrageenan.

For a copy of “The U.S. Market for Organic Food and Beverages,” go to organic/foodbev.pdf.

Hunger Pains

While reviewing a recent claim, Hagerty Classic Insurance, Traverse City, Mich., discovered the driver in question had been in numerous accidents related to eating while behind the wheel. The insurer of classic automobiles placed a “restraining order” against anything edible within the driver's reach while behind the wheel, but the company also set about to determine just what impact food has on driving.

Reviewing government statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hagerty discovered the NHTSA had found eating to be a bigger driving distraction than using a hand-held cell phone. This led the insurer to develop a list of the “10 Most Dangerous Foods to Eat While Driving,” to help protect other motorists, passengers and pedestrians—not to mention the vehicles themselves—from damage caused by inattentiveness behind the wheel.

Hagerty then rated the most common foods eaten in cars according to several factors, including degree of distraction, degree of difficulty in eating single-handedly and the food's popularity. Most foods on the list diverted the driver's attention by being spilled or dropped—chocolate, soft drinks, and jelly- and cream-filled donuts made the cut. However, some on the list required further explanation. Fried chicken, juicy hamburgers, and barbecued foods can distract the driver with greasy fingers and dripping sauces. Eating any food containing chili (i.e., a chili dog, sloppy joe or Coney dog) while driving “requires more dexterity than humans possess,” while tacos easily can become disassembled during eating, making a mess of the front seat.

Hagerty recommends avoiding hot soups and coffee while driving, to reduce the risk of a distracting burn.

Sidebar: THE IN BOX:

Roche Vitamins Inc., Parsippany, N.J., has launched an e-commerce site——for customers of Roche Vitamins and Roche Vitamins Canada.

Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn., and Excel Corporation, a subsidiary of Cargill, Minneapolis, will form a joint venture named Precept Foods LLC to market nationally-branded, fresh, case-ready beef and pork under the Hormel Always Tender brand name in the United States.

U.S. Nutraceuticals, Eustis, Fla., has promoted Tony Evans, Ph.D., to vice president of product development and Uy Nguyen, Ph.D., to vice president of technology.

Cargill's, Minneapolis, two dry corn milling businesses—Illinois Cereal Mills and Seaforth Corn Mills—will operate under a common trade name, Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients.

AB Enzymes GmbH, a subsidiary of ABITEC Group, Northampton, England, has acquired Gamma Chemie GmbH, a German-based enzyme company.

Food Technical Consultants of Canada, a new industry association in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for small food consulting firms, has officially launched. Membership is restricted to companies with five or fewer technical consultants to the food industry.

Ruiz Food Products, Dinuba, Calif., has named Kim Ruiz Beck vice chairman.