Acquires Earthbound Farm
The WhiteWave Foods Company has announced that
it has completed its acquisition of
the organic fresh produce firm Earthbound Farm
for approximately USD 600 million in
Gregg Engles, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of WhiteWave, said,
"We are pleased to complete this transaction, which represents an
exciting step in WhiteWave's evolution and reaffirms our leadership in
the organic foods and beverages industry in
North America. With Earthbound Farm as part of our portfolio, WhiteWave
will now provide the two most popular gateways for consumers to enter
into the organic category - produce and dairy - and have a significant
foothold in the fresh foods category, which represents one of the most
attractive, emerging trends in the food industry today. We look forward
to partnering with our talented colleagues at Earthbound Farm as we
continue to work to change the way the world eats for the better."
According to WhiteWave Foods, California-based
Earthbound Farm will continue to operate as a
separate business unit. No significant operational changes are
anticipated at Earthbound Farm as a result of the acquisition.
WhiteWave used cash on hand and borrowings under its senior secured
credit facilities to finance the acquisition, including a new
USD 500 million 7-year incremental term loan
facility that was arranged by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith
Inc., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and CoBank, ACB, as the joint lead
arrangers and co-book managers. WhiteWave further amended its senior
credit facilities, providing an option to increase the facilities by an
additional USD 500 million, subject to future
lenders' commitments. After giving effect to the acquisition, the
principal amount outstanding under WhiteWave's current
USD 1.84 billion senior secured credit
facilities commitments is approximately USD
The purchase has made Whitewave Foods the largest
organic food enterprise in North America. Leaving Earthbound Farm as a
stand-alone outfit is considered a smart move since there is little
synergy between the organic fresh produce and dairy / dairy alternatives
businesses. It will be interesting to see how Whitewave Foods looks to
expand its organic fresh produce internationally, as it has done for
organic dairy / dairy alternatives.
News Release / Organic Monitor
Cereal Becomes GMO-Free
Genetically modified ingredients have
been eliminated from one of the best-known breakfast cereals in the US
after a year-long campaign from environmental groups. Food industry
giant General Mills says it took genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
out of its Cheerios brand not out of safety concerns, but in response to
Just over a year ago, the GMO Inside environmental coalition rallied
tens of thousands of consumers to flood the Cheerios Facebook page and
call and email the company telling them to take GMOs out of the cereal.
We just wanted to encourage General Mills to offer non-GMO Cheerios to
consumers here in the United States just like they do in Europe, said
Todd Larsen, a coalition member with Green America. And apparently tens
of thousands of people agreed with us.
The campaign's website says GMOs have disastrous effects on the
environment and increasing research is pointing to negative health
impacts of consuming GMOs. Whilst the World Health Organization, the
U.S. Institute of Medicine and regulatory agencies say GMOs pose no more
risk than conventional foods. It's clear from scientific and regulatory
bodies that they are safe, said General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas.
But we value our Cheerios fans, and we listen to their thoughts and
Going non-GMO was not easy. Nearly all the corn, soybeans and sugar
beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, and 70 to 80 percent
of supermarket products contain GMO ingredients.
Cheerios are mostly oats, and there are no GMO oat varieties. But
finding reliable non-GMO sources for the small amounts of corn starch
and sugar in the cereal took a significant investment over nearly a
year, according to the Cheerios website.
Siemienas said it would be difficult if not impossible for other cereals
to follow suit. The change only applies to original Cheerios, not the 11
other Cheerios flavors.
Cheerios becoming GMO-free marks an important milestone
in the pro-GM labelling movement. Until now, mostly organic food
companies were adopting Non-GMO certification schemes. However,
retailers like Target and ALDI are also responding to consumer demand by
launching GMO-free ranges. The foodservice company Chipotle also plans
to phase out GM ingredients in its restaurants. Such developments have
made GM-free labels the fastest growing in the American food industry.
also shows the pressure consumers can exert on large brands. It remains
to be seen what brands will follow Cheerio's lead and also become GMO-free
The future direction of GM labelling will be discussed at the North American edition of
the Sustainable Foods Summit, taking place in San Francisco on
More details are on the
Source: News Release / Organic Monitor
New Sustainable Business Alliance Launched
A group of companies
favoring use of safer alternatives to harmful substances has launched a
new coalition aimed at pressing lawmakers to adopt stricter approaches
for regulating industrial chemicals than the American Chemistry Council
(ACC) and other industry groups that have been lobbying to reform the
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
A source with the group, Companies for Safer Chemicals (CSC), says its
members will assess whether they should join talks aimed at amending the
Senate bill, S. 1009, in a way that would still satisfy their reform
principles -- which largely align with environmentalist and Democratic
priorities on the bill.
A key goal of the coalition is to "match up our principles on TSCA
reform with [S.1009]," says David Levine, president of the American
Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), one of the groups that created the
coalition. "Is there an opportunity to rework" the bill in a way that
aligns with our principles, he said.
If the coalition decides to join the talks, it would expand the number
of parties willing to negotiate over the measure and bolster
environmentalists who have so far been concerned over many of the bill's
But ASBC's Levine cautioned in an interview with Inside EPA that while
the group believes that there may be an opportunity for compromise "we
don't hold the false illusion that it is a slam dunk -- we're trying to
be realistic" about the possibility of a compromise on the Senate bill.
The alliance, which announced its launch December
12, is headed up by ASBC and Seventh Generation, the household product
The group's members includes a handful of downstream chemical consumers,
such as Annie's, an organic food company, Badger, a
natural personal care company, Naturepedic, which manufacturers
child-care products, Method, which produces cleaning products, and
Patagonia, the clothing company.
In a press release, the group says that strong lobbying by other
industry groups "has given policymakers the impression that business is
monolithic in its support for weak legislation." The new coalition "will
make a business argument for strong reforms that support the industry
innovating safer and cleaner products," it adds.
But a primary goal is also to determine whether the coalitions'
principles for TSCA reform align closely enough with the provisions in
the Senate bill that a compromise may be reached, David Levine, ASBC's
CEO, said in an interview.
During a recent press conference with the environmentalist coalition
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, Levine backed efforts to
secure action from major retail chains like Wal-Mart to limit sales of
products containing toxic chemicals, aiming to boost leverage over
chemical and other manufacturing groups in ongoing Senate talks over the
The coalition's launch comes as ACC and other major chemical industry
groups are urging House lawmakers to vote early in 2014 on TSCA reform
legislation in an effort to jump-start the stalled process.
ACC and other major industry groups have publicly supported S. 1009,
known as the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), in its current
form, which marks a compromise between Sens. David Vitter (R-LA),
ranking Republican on the Senate environment committee and the late
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The bill -- which has won more than a dozen
cosponsors from each party -- seeks to reform TSCA comprehensively by
revising most of the law's current provisions.
But most environmental groups and states have strongly criticized it,
saying it will not provide EPA with adequate authority to regulate
chemical substances and preempts states.
And Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate environment panel,
has laid out several issues that must be resolved before she would allow
the bill to move forward, including timeframes for EPA to act on the
most dangerous chemicals; ensuring that states are not preempted from
regulating harmful toxicants; specific protections for vulnerable
populations, including children; and "protection of all victims to hold
all responsible parties to account in case of harm."
Talks between Boxer, Vitter and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) have so far failed
to reach consensus, prompting ACC to begin pressing House lawmakers to
vote on TSCA reform legislation early in 2014 in an effort to advance
the issue and eventually pressure senators to act.
ACC President Cal Dooley told reporters December
4 that the group sees "an opportunity on a complex and difficult issue
to see progress before the election," though some sources warn there is
likely only a narrow window for Congress to act. He said that even with
a divided Congress, momentum "continues to build" in the House for some
form of the Senate bill, to gain a floor vote and be enacted prior to
While ACC is focusing on the House, the coalition is raising concerns
with many provisions in the Senate bill, echoing concerns
environmentalists have raised, including the lack of deadlines for EPA
to take action on a chemical, the omission of a green chemistry program
included in an earlier Lautenberg bill that never gained any Republican
support, lack of resources in the bill to support EPA implementation,
and state preemption.
For each of its reform principles, the coalition seeks to make a
"business case" for tougher chemical safety laws, partly in an effort to
distinguish its perspective on reform from major industry groups such as
ACC, Levine said. For example, timelines for EPA to take action on
chemicals are needed because absent clear deadlines and guidance, agency
action on a substance "may languish and introduce uncertainty in the
marketplace that has a negative financial impact on business."
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
Green alternatives to synthetic chemicals in
cosmetic products are regularly featured in
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit. Each edition
has a formulation session that looks at novel green
ingredients / processes and their associated formulation issues. The
North American edition of this international series of summits will take place in
New York on
More details will be on the
Green Cosmetic Ingredients -
Technical & Sustainability Issues Persist
Source: EP Alert