NATURAL PRODUCTS INDUSTRY HISTORY

1920’s

In response to the shift towards synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides in the 1920’s, ecologically minded farmers came together in various associations such as: Demeter International of Germany, which encouraged biodynamic farming and began the first certification program in 1928, the Soil Association of the United Kingdom, and Rodale Press in the United States.

1940′s

Synthetic pesticides and herbicides were introduced to American agriculture.

1940′s to 1950′s

J.I. Rodale, Ehrnefried Pfeiffer of Kemberton Farm School, and Paul Keene of Walnut Acres Farms wrote about their experiences farming organically.

1953

Natural Food Associates (NFA) was formed in Atlanta, Texas, to connect buyers and sellers of organic foods.

1962

Silent Spring was published, documenting the negative effects of pesticides on birds and the overall environment. Rachel Carson’s cited research showing that DDT had caused thinner egg shells, reproductive problems and death. This book is widely credited with starting the modern environmental movement.

1968

Stewart Brand publishes the Whole Earth Catalog, creating a marketplace for consumers and suppliers interested in sustainability and ecology.
Tom and Kate Chappell decided to create Tom’s of Maine to make and sell their own natural and personal care products that would not harm the environment.

1970’s

A group of farmers formed California Certified Organic Farmers, becoming the first organization to certify organic farms in North America.

1970

Earth Day is founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) in the U.S. on April 22 as a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment.

1972

Demeter, the Soil Association and Rodale Press joined to form the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

1973

United States bans the pesticide DDT. Organic certification was born for organic raw food, organic health food and other natural health food and product manufacturers and producers. The organic logo and organic food labeling soon followed.

1975

Tom’s of Maine introduce the first natural toothpaste (1975) and deodorant (1976).

1976

Frontier Natural Products Co-op began as a two-person operation in 1976 in a cabin along the Cedar River in Eastern Iowa.

1979

Mel Coleman, Sr., founds Coleman Natural Meat, the first company to ask for and receive a USDA “natural” label. Coleman beef is produced from animals that have been raised from birth without the use of antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones on a 100 percent vegetarian diet.

1980

Safer Way Natural Foods and Clarksville Natural Grocery join forces to open Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas with a staff of only 19.

1988

Frontier Natural Products Co-op expands from wholesale to retail with packaged spices.
Reed’s Ginger Brew starts making natural ginger ale.

1989

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released their report on the carcinogenic growth regulator Alar, which was used on apples.

1990

The organic industry had estimated sales of more than $1 billion and Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which established the framework to create the National Organic Standards Board.

1991

Now with more than 85,000 sq. ft., Frontier Natural Products Co-op introduces of a line of gourmet, 100% certified organic whole bean coffees. Subsequent introductions included a line of herbal extracts and the first certified organic beer in the United States.

1999

Coleman trademarks its meats with the phrase “No Antibiotics, No Added Hormones … Ever.” Organic raw food and health foods are setting a trend.

2000

Organic industry members and consumers sent over 275,000 comments to the USDA on their proposed National Organic Standards Board, which included provisions not recommended by the NOSB.
The USDA’s Economic Research Service released a major study on the status of natural health foods in the U.S. showing that certified organic crop land more than doubled during the previous decade and that some organic livestock sectors— eggs and dairy—grew even faster.

2001

USDA passes the Final Organic Rule after reinstating prohibitions on irradiation, sewage sludge and genetically engineered seed.
Frontier sells the organic coffee business to Green Mountain Coffee.

2002

The Simply Organic brand, established in 2002, quickly became the fastest growing brand in natural seasonings and the leading brand of the explosively growing category of organic seasonings within the natural health foods sector.
BC Natural Foods purchased Coleman Natural Products. According to food market research, Coleman, with $150 million in revenue, maintained nearly double-digit growth during most of its years and its products are sold in more than 1,700 stores across the country with beef sourced from more than 800 ranchers in 17 western states.

2006

Tom’s of Maine bought by the Colgate-Palmolive Company for $100 million.

2008

Whole Foods posts record revenues of $7.9 billion with 275 stores.

2009

Farms that grow organic raw food and companies that manufacture organic health food have become so efficient that they now excel in carbon emissions trading and have proven to be successful in lowering down the discharge and use of volatile organic compounds.

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