Surging consumer demand led entrepreneurs to establish “identity preserved” venue

By vast

Published: October 4, 2018

Category: Non-GMO News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

An American entrepreneur is building a wholesale commodity market to meet rising demand for food that is free from pesticides and bioengineering.

Kellee James leads Mercaris, a U.S. company that hosts online auctions for organic or non-genetically modified crops. Hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain and oilseeds now change hands on its platform every year.

The auctions have brought an element of transparency to a hazy sector. Most deals for natural foodstuffs are struck in private. Mercaris allows approved buyers and sellers to make anonymous bids and offers in an active market where prices and volumes are disclosed.

The deals still account for less than 1 per cent of the total organic and non-GMO cash market in the U.S., Ms. James estimates. Compared with the conventional agricultural commodities, the volume is minuscule.

But the opportunity may be significant. The organic food market grew by 6.4 per cent to $45.2 billion in the U.S. last year, well above the 1.1 per cent growth in the overall food market, according to the Organic Trade Association. More than 90 per cent of the U.S. corn and soybean crop sprouts from genetically engineered seeds, but that leaves millions of acres for non-GMO varieties.

Sources: Financial Times (subscription), Organic Authority

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