'We want to be clear what we stand for and ‘all-natural’ is not clear'

Good Food Made Simple to transition to organic: 'We want to be clear what we stand for, and ‘all-natural’ is not clear'

Frozen food brand Good Food Made Simple transitions to organic

Good Food Made Simple – one of a new wave of companies on a mission to revitalize the frozen food aisle - is transitioning its burritos and wraps to a 'made with organic ingredients' platform and ditching the much maligned term ‘all-natural’ as part of a brand refresh.

It’s starting a journey, rather than flipping a switch, but the plan is to move the entire line to a ‘made with organic ingredients’ platform (with at least 70% organic ingredients), with the ultimate aim of moving to a 100% organic positioning, CEO George Gavris told FoodNavigator-USA.

“When we started, our goal was to provide convenient options without artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oils and other things that consumers don’t recognize and don’t have in their homes.

“But as we’ve evolved, it’s become more complex as we’re looking at things like hormones and antibiotics in the meat supply, and pesticides, and now we’re transitioning to organic – to begin with at a minimum of 70% on our journey to being a fully organic certified product – the gold standard.”

As Gary Hirshberg said, here are 10,000 reasons to eat organically and only one reason not to, and that’s cost

Asked whether the so-called ‘natural’ foods movement will gradually transition to organic – as Annie’s president John Foraker recently speculated – he said: “All natural is such an abused phrase that we’re removing it from all of our products.

“We want to be clear what we stand for and ‘all-natural’ is not clear. Whereas ‘organic’ [which is underpinned by clear standards], ‘no antibiotics’, or ‘no hormones’, or ‘no chemical preservatives’ are clear to consumers.

“In the long term, do we believe organic will be a much larger percentage of our food supply? Absolutely. It’s the future. Gary Hirshberg [chairman of Stonyfield Farm and organic food advocate] said there are 10,000 reasons to eat organically and only one reason not to, and that’s cost, and he’s right.

“As more and more companies formulate with organic ingredients, the supply structure and availability of organics will increase and costs will come down. I liken it to [the current drive to use] cage-free eggs. People said it couldn’t be done and lo and behold people make these pledges and now we are getting there.”

“In the long term, do we believe organic will be a much larger percentage of our food supply? Absolutely. It’s the future. Gary Hirshberg [chairman of Stonyfield Farm and organic food advocate] said there are 10,000 reasons to eat organically and only one reason not to, and that’s cost, and he’s right.”

George Gavris, CEO, Good Food Made Simple

Sourcing organic ingredients

But it will take time, he said. “There are supply challenges around organic protein, mainly because of the cost of [securing organic/non-GMO] animal feed, and prices are very high, and in some areas we can’t actually get hold of organic product in the format that we want to use, so for example we want cage-free diced eggs and egg curds, but they are not available in organic formulations right now.”  

For other materials that Gavris is sourcing – such as red peppers – organic products are readily available, just a fair bit more expensive.

And with anything, if you are buying ingredients on the open market, as opposed to contracting with suppliers and setting up longer-term supply arrangements, the costs are much higher, he said. “But when you start out you don’t have a choice.”

Boston-based Good Food Made Simple debuted two new made-with-organic Breakfast Wraps – Spicy Veggie and Spinach and Mushroom – and new USDA organic Entrée Burritos in Spicy Three Bean and Black Bean & Veggie, at the Expo West show this month. Visitors to the booth also got to see its new Buttermilk and Blueberry Waffles.

Later this year, it will introduce new made-with-organic Entrée Bowls in varieties including Cavatappi Bolognese, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, and Chicken Pad Thai.

Smaller brands such as Good Food Made Simple are acting as agents of change

The Good Food Made Simple brand, which was developed by Foodmark executives in 2010 and is now in 7,000-7,500 stores including Target, H.E.B., Publix, Kroger and Ahold as well as natural chains such as Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market, focuses on frozen breakfast products from burritos to steelcut oatmeal, waffles, breakfast bowls, and egg patties.

However, it has also developed other products such as mac & cheese and could move into several other categories in future, said Gavris, who says revenues this year are projected to be in the $20m to $30m range.

Good Food Made Simple aims to provide convenient frozen food options without artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oils plus a whole array of other ingredients included on a so-called ‘bad ingredients’ list on its website.

“The frozen case has been really neglected until quite recently, and the big legacy brands are struggling, so smaller brands such as Good Food Made Simple are acting as agents of change, and retailers are giving us more space.”

Just because large frozen food brands are now moving to a clean label platform doesn’t mean that consumers will come rushing back, he predicted.

I think it’s great that they are doing this, but they are doing it because they have to do it, because they are losing business, whereas brand such as Amy’s and EVOL and Good Food made Simple have always had this approach as part of their mission and consumers understand the difference.”

GMO labeling: I’m really disappointed with the GMA

The same applied to GMO labeling, he alleged, with the recent wave of GMO labeling pledges from big brands driven not by a genuine belief in transparency but the [practical problem of having to comply with a labeling law that has been vigorously challenged in the courts.

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s position on this [it advocates a voluntary rather than a mandatory approach to GMO labeling] has been a real disappointment to me.”

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