With the 2002 implementation of the National Organic Program, retailers were permitted to apply for organic certification for their store departments.
Lunds and Byerly?s, a pair of supermarket chains with common ownership based in Minnesota, were recently awarded organic certification for their produce departments in all 20 of their stores by third-party certifier Quality Assurance International. ?We believe that organic certification assures consumers that we are maintaining the integrity of the organic farmers? hard work,? said Bea James, whole health manager at Lunds and Byerly?s.
To qualify for certification, Lunds and Byerly?s spent two years instituting sweeping changes at all of their stores. In addition to the NOP requirements, Lunds and Byerly?s also decided to include a minimum of 100 different produce items in each store. ?This could include four different varieties of organic apples, etc. The goal is to have diversity and variety in all the organic selections,? James said, making the rigorous certification process well worth the effort.
James said one of the most practical challenges of the process was training all of the produce staff in the new procedures. ?We had to train our Spanish-speaking staff members as well, so we had to make manuals available in both English and Spanish,? she said. ?It?s also been challenging to ensure that our stores have enough organic produce available year-round to support minimum requirements.?
But James said that all of the hard work has been well worth it. ?It?s just the right thing to do.?
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 6/p. 22