People are caught between what is perceived and what actually is. In the case of organic supplements, the word “organic” is highly misleading.

So while people are harped at to eat better diets, lose weight, increase health or suffer from a myriad of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of stroke, osteoarthritis, coronary artery disease (CAD) and congestive heart disease their attempt to comply is undone by the very labels they read. The common person has been duped by labeling laws that allow for the purposeful misleading of key terms and a lack of understanding of what organic means.

The problem is that people continue to think that organic means 100 percent organic when it can mean only a percentage of the ingredients are organic. The solution is brands that educate the consumer about what organic means while taking advantage of the purity of true organic supplements.

Organic Labeling Laws

Under the current organic labeling laws which are in the realm of the USDA, [1] a product must meet three criteria.

1. The product’s production must be one that does not include excluded methods. Those would be things like GMO ingredients. There is a whole list of excluded methods including the use of sewage sludge or products or ingredients that undergo ionizing radiation. [2]

In terms of organic food or products such as organic beauty products, GMO is bad enough but to actually consider that people must be told not to use sewage sludge is a bit undoing.

2. Products that are organic must be made using approved ingredients which are listed in great detail on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances list. The list is broke down into sections including on that is a synthetic substances list of allowed use such as sodium carbonate peroxy-hydrate as an herbicide or and plastic mulch covers excluding those made using PVC.

Already you begin to see the complexity by which “organic” is really twisted away from meaning purely natural to a definition that fits the idea of organic into the American manufacturing and commercial agriculture industries. Is this organic? It is not the picture that many Americans have when they buy a product that says organic.  In fact, labeling laws allow for phrases such as “made with organic ingredients” which implies the product is organic. However, what it really means is that some of the ingredients in the product are organic. So does that make the product organic? Not so much, no.

3. All organic products including foods, supplements, and beauty aids must be overseen by the UDSANational Organic Program and obtain a certification from that agency. What this tells us is that even with the use of plastic mulch covers, and synthetic “natural” chemicals, that the USDA approves of the current state of organic labeling.

The real question is where does this leave the American consumer. The answer is that as consumers we are not in a good place when it comes to purchasing or understanding organic products and their labeling. An organic apple juice only made from five variety of apples only needs one certified organic apple to have the phrase “made with organic apple juice.” That labeling laws are highly misleading as the consumer easily makes the jump that all five apples are organic when in fact they are not all organic. That is the very crux of why organic is a problem for consumers.

The Implication is Key

It is fairly safe to way that many American’s are beginning to question the loyalty of government organizations such as the USDA and the FDA. In fact, consumers are questioning the consciousness of US food manufacturers. We see this in the massive rise in organic food sales. We see this by measuring consumer response and in statistics that paint the picture of what consumers buy. The USDA says that organic product sales now account for four percent of the food sales within the US. You can buy organic foods in grocery stores, natural food stores, and at farmer’s markets. Organic brands are increases as the demand for organic products remains high as seen through the higher prices paid by consumers for organic foods. However, the numbers really show why this is important.

In 2012, organic food sales topped $28 billion dollars in the US. In 2014, the market share grew to an estimated $35 billion and it is expected that the growth of organic food products will continue to rise in 2017. In fact, the American consumer is ready for organic foods. We see this in the growth of farmer’s markets. In 1994, there were only 1,755 farmer’s markets in the US. In 2013, the number of farmer’s markets swelled to a whopping 8,144. Communities are coming onboard with organic foods. [3]

That type of growth is amazing and it points to a real opportunity. Not only is the market for organics taking off, but the niche for real organics is wide open. the USDA states that there are four categories of organic products and labels. [4] Those include:

  • 100 percent organic — All products must be certified organic as well as the processing aids. [5]
  • Organic — Must be at least 95 percent organic or from the list of products that allows for organic.
  • Made with Organic — Must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.
  • Made with Organic (Specific) Ingredients

The only category here that is all organic is the one that is called 100 percent organic. That is the niche. By educating consumers, and focusing on 100 percent organic ingredients you open a door that separates supplements, diet aids, and other products from products that are not 100 percent organic, merely organic, made with organic ingredients, or contains an organic ingredient. Once you divide 100 percent you can never go back. It is that purity that consumers expect and by showing them that is what you produce, your market opens.

The opportunity to take advantage of current USDA labeling separates the organic wheat from the non-organic sheaf. Is this an opportunity to elevate your product? Yes. It is an opportunity to manufacture supplements that exceed current market standards? Yes. The real question is how can 100 percent organic change your current products and market share? If the current craze with organic food consumption is any indication, then 100 percent organic in supplements is a new multi-billion dollar industry.