Sourcing organic is a top priority at Annie’s, and our consumers seem to think so too. In FY2015, 85% of our sales came from certified organic or made with organic products, with a 9% growth in certified organic sales compared to FY2014.
We believe that sourcing organic is one of the most direct ways we can prevent pollution, improve soil health, protect biodiversity, and decrease our carbon footprint. We also know that our consumers want nourishing food that is safe for their bodies and the environment. Organic foods are grown without toxic, persistent pesticides, synthetic growth hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge or irradiation. The USDA’s organic standard mandates these requirements to ensure the integrity of the organic seal.
Organic agriculture works with natural systems to create a more resilient and sustainable food system. A 30-year-long study by the Rodale Institute compared the impacts of organic and conventional farming and found that organic outperformed conventional in energy efficiency, drought resilience, and profitability.1 Not only did organic match conventional yields, but it did so with 45% less energy and 40% less greenhouse gas emissions.2 The study also found that organic corn yields were 31% higher than conventional during drought years.3 Organic farming can also be better for farmers, as the study found that the average organic income per acre per year was $340 more than conventional, while expenses per acre per year were actually $28 less.4
Recent scientific data also shows that organic practices build soil quality, enhance microbial activity, and help cycle nutrients through the soil. In a long-term study conducted in Iowa, researchers concluded that “soil properties related to biologically active organic matter were up to 40% higher in organic soil” compared to conventional.5 This is important because active organic matter is critical to ensuring healthy, productive soil, which in turn produces the healthy crops essential for a healthy food system.
Not only is organic the foundation of our sustainability efforts, but we continue to invest in organic as our business grows. In FY2015, we purchased 44 million pounds of organic ingredients. This represents a 5% increase over FY2014 and a 67% increase since FY2011. We’re continuing to push ourselves to grow organic acreage, building a better food system.