April 30/La Jolla, Calif/PRNewswire -- Kashi has announced a big initiative to increase the company's availability of organic and Non-GMO Project Verified foods. By the end of 2014, all existing Kashi GOLEAN cereals and Kashi Chewy Granola Bars -- representing Kashi's biggest offerings -- will be Non-GMO Project Verified. Beginning in 2015, all new Kashi foods introduced into the market will contain at least 70% organic ingredients and will also be Non-GMO Project Verified.

"This commitment meets the ever-evolving needs of our consumers," says David DeSouza, Kashi general manager. "As one of the largest food brands in the natural and organic marketplace, we are in a unique position to make a sizeable, positive impact on the food system."

This long-term commitment follows the Non-GMO Project Verification of seven Kashi foods earlier this year, including Kashi Autumn Wheat, Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla, Strawberry Fields, 7 Whole Grain Flakes and 7 Whole Grain Puffs cereals, and Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf. In addition, two more cereals, Kashi Simply Maize and Kashi Indigo Morning cereals, are currently in the process of becoming Non-GMO Project Verified.

The Non-GMO Project is the leading independent verifier of non-GMO foods and the only third-party verification system in the U.S. The Product Verification Program is a rigorous, multi-step process involving segregation, traceability, risk assessment and ongoing testing of all major GMO risk ingredients at critical control points. Verification can take several months depending on many factors, including how many products a company enrolls at one time and the level of evaluation required for each ingredient.

"Products are not verified until their compliance with the Non-GMO Project Standard has been fully demonstrated," explains Megan Westgate, Non-GMO Project executive director. "When people see the Non-GMO Project Verification mark on a product, they can trust that it's been made in compliance with the best possible practices for GMO avoidance."

Kashi expects to nearly double its organic ingredient purchasing over the next few years. Because many of these supply chains do not exist yet, in order to fulfill its organic and Non-GMO Project Verified plan, Kashi has been working with farmers and suppliers for several years to help evolve more Non-GMO and organic ingredients.

"We support Kashi's work in transitioning to non-GMO ingredients and their increased use of certified organic ingredients in their products. A transition of this scale takes time but will result in an enormous positive impact for consumers and the environment. We commend Kashi for their leadership and dedication in this area and believe Kashi and other companies making such commitments should be applauded for their leadership, not vilified," comments Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), an organization that represents natural food co-ops throughout the country.

"Our team has been passionately committed to this journey for many years and we plan to continue aggressively with that commitment," adds DeSouza. "This issue is larger than just Kashi and requires time and collaboration across many partners within the food system. Only by working together can we match supply with demand and provide a long-term solution."

 From the April 30, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily Update