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It’s Not Fair! We Want THIS…as Long As You Pay For It

September 9, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you heard about the organic company that was purchased by an established food giant? It seems Annie’s – beloved by the organic nonGMO crowd – has sold out and was purchased by General Mills. The heat coming from the screen is intense.

Comments. Oh so many comments. Angry people “it’s just about money”…”the profit is most important”. Some nasty, ugly, horrible comments I won’t repeat here (nor allow in my comment section). All pointing fingers.

It’s a funny thing about pointing fingers. You point and there’s three pointing back at you. Point all five and it’s a handshake – a discussion and a chance for, maybe, finding solutions. One comment is from someone working for a large seller of pork products – they don’t use GMOs? So if he works for something he doesn’t believe in is it just about money?

I’ve been following the public demand on many levels for a few years. It’s what we do, of course, but on a bigger level I’ve shared insights and told I’ve been wrong a lot. A year, two years later not only was I not wrong, I was absolutely bullseye dead on. And that’s frustrating enough to curse and swear and scream but I won’t because it’s not productive.

You see, I watched the campaign to target Cheerios on and off for over a year – flooding their Facebook page demanding nonGMO. Most flooding was from folks that were not customers, clearly, but wanted their will be done no matter what customers thought. They weren’t interested in alternatives like we offer at SlowMoneyFarm (involving cooking!) but in making other products what they wanted. Customers that were actually buying Cheerios and liked it. So, famously, Cheerios altered the ingredients and used nonGMO ingredients. I made several comments that those who had been flooding the page better go buy Cheerios so the sales went up. If sales did not go up it would affect other products being made nonGMO. Current customers, in action, did not care about the ingredients used.

Guess what.

The new, non-GMO version of Cheerios isn’t moving the sales needle significantly for General Mills GIS -0.64% , and the giant cereal company isn’t planning any more non-GMO products after it went to a lot of trouble to source non-GMO Cheerios.

But these developments aren’t being reported anywhere other than in FoodBusinessNews.net, which broke the story. The silence that has greeted them is quite a contrast to the enthusiastic echo chamber that was created by legions of news media, from the food trades and way beyond, that last month hailed General Mills’ decision to begin offering its classic Cheerios cereal in mostly-non-GMO form. Soon after, Post Foods said that its Grape-Nuts cereal had been certified GMO-free. Source – Forbes

Wow. Not only was I right in no more being added but classic Cheerios. If people don’t buy it then it will cease to be.

So back to Annie‘s and what people want. Or don’t want – because negative gets so much more action than – well – ACTION.

Annie’s was co-founded in 1989 by Annie Withey, aiming to provide natural foods for moms to feed their families. She initially built the business by word of mouth. Withey, whose rabbit Bernie inspired the company’s bunny mascot, still writes the personal letters printed on the product boxes and “remains the inspiration and corporate conscience” for the company’s products, according to its website.

So this food business started in 1989. I’m guessing there isn’t a lot of those upset that were a customer the whole time, but from a word of mouth business to, reportedly, over $204million in sales the most recent fiscal year is a huge accomplishment. Is there anyone reading who doesn’t think it was for money? Anyone think that all that money was given away and not used to benefit the family and business it became?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, because it changed owners it’s “evil” – it’s crossed to the dark side of a company that uses GMOs. It was a good investment – purchased for $230 million it was a business decision made on demand of customers. If people cease to buy it guess what – less organic, nonGMO products still. It proves that “it was a fad” and people aren’t serious. The business dies and other food takes its place.

The vast majority of Americans are content with the diversity and taste of America’s foods. Some want other choices, and there is that. But for every cry of “it’s all about the money” where’s the spending money to make it happen?

Personally, here at our little spot, we do nonGMO but, like Cheerios, don’t see a lot of sales based on that fact. OK we see no sales based on that. Does. Not Matter. We aren’t obsessive about our food, like probably most Americans out there. We product heritage/heirloom nonGMO options because they work for us, we like them and it’s what people keep saying they want. After four years of losses we’re altering that gauge slightly for a better 2015. We’re eliminating the farm share option due to lack of interest (honoring the few that signed up for one), and reworking to offer more of what is selling, what might sell and going beyond what people say they want. Is it about money? Like most businesses of course it is. Has to be in order to keep going. Is that a bad thing?

Why is it greedy to want to be able to pay bills? While some criticize businesses for not paying minimum wage, if we truly figured the hours into the venture it’d be pennies, not dollars. Change needed! And coming!

Food choices are what we all have. More food choices than we appreciate most of the time. There’s a reason that there’s large farms and small, large food companies and small – food choices. It takes people financing those choices. It takes investing in niche markets if you want niche markets. Don’t leave it for someone else because someone else won’t do it! Finance isn’t just buying at the lowest cost possible. It’s financing those projects going forward and looking at all links of the chain for your investment dollars.

Be aware of all the steps to get from our farms to your plate. Help insure those links in the chain are there tomorrow. Especially with niche markets, it’s critical to survival. But don’t underestimate – large companies too if it’s not profitable it won’t be there.

Invest in your food.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 9, 2014 5:24 PM

    Reblogged this on Food, Farm, Life Choices and commented:

    Today’s contribution from our sister blog – go on over and have a look if you haven’t before. Food issues in the news are in the blog!

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