At least one wheat farm is already on board, and its certified transitional wheat is going into Kashi's new Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits. The cereal box carries the new certified transitional label and a provocative caption that says, "This cereal is not organic." The idea is to grab consumers' attention.
"A lot of consumers know about organic, they have a lot of intellectual curiosity around organic food, but many don't know that farms face challenges," said Denholm. He said Kashi will release more certified transitional products this year, and the company is paying certified transitional farmers a price that is "somewhere between the price for conventional and the price for USDA certified organic."
This isn't the first time someone has tried to create a type of "in between" label. Whole Foods started "Responsibly Grown" for nonorganic farmers who follow certain practices established by the grocery giant. Whole Foods has also started buying up farmland to create its own organic supply. "We could do that," said Denholm. Instead, Kashi decided it was better to create a standard protocol that anyone could use. "We much prefer the open-source model."
Kashi will have to see if consumers understand the label and take to the idea, if more farmers find it an inducement to switch over to organic and if rivals join in and support the program. That's a lot of ifs, but long term, the goal is to increase the amount of organic farmland, adding more supply to the market, to drive down prices. Denholm said a key part of the Certified Transitional program is that farms become Certified Organic at the end of three years. "A farm can't stay in transition in perpetuity."