The Silk brand, which produces soy, coconut and almond "milks", is adding a new angle to its green marketing that it hopes will help it recuperate from the bad press it received in 2009.
The company, which is owned by the largest dairy company in the US, Dean Foods, announced that all its products have been officially verified by the Non-GMO Project.
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, distributors, farmers, seed companies and consumers that is dedicated to "ensuring the sustained availability of non-GMO food and beverage choices."
Dean Foods was heavily criticized in 2009 for switching from organic to conventional soy beans without clearly labeling it with different packaging.
For many years, Silk soymilk was certified organic. In 2009, they introduced a "natural" line - the soymilk was made from conventionally grown soybeans (where pesticides are used), but the packaging was identical to the organic line that retailers and customers were long accustomed to other than the absence of the USDA Organic seal. Even the price retailers charged was the same!
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) called for a boycott of Silk products because even "certified organic" soybeans were sourced from countries with unacceptable labor and certification standards including Brazil and China.
In August 2009, the Silk website claimed that all soy beans were in fact sourced from North America including organic soybeans.
In late 2010, the company launched a traceability website, which allows people to trace the origin of the soybeans found in any Silk product down to the county level.
Now the company hopes the Non-GMO labeling will further rebuild confidence among customers.
All Silk soymilk, coconutmilk and almondmilk products were enrolled in the Non-GMO Project's Product Verification Program last year. To achieve verification, Silk demonstrated that all of its GMO risk ingredients are tested according to a rigorous and continuous program in compliance with Non-GMO Project Standards, which include traceability and segregation requirements.
The Non-GMO Project's verification seal will now appear on all verified Silk Soymilk, Silk Pure Almond and Silk Pure Coconut beverage packaging beginning in August.
"With more than 20 million consumers nationwide and an exceptionally high volume of soybeans, all from North America, Silk is a tremendous ally," says Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project. "The verification of their beverage portfolio is an enormous boost to our non-profit mission of providing the public with an informed choice and preserving a non-GMO ingredient supply for the future."
Surveys show that shoppers are confused by the term "natural" and that many people assume it means "organic," when it's not.
Read our previous coverage of the Silk saga: