Monday, July 13, 2009

No More Silk Soymilk

The Coop will no longer be selling the half-gallon cartons of Silk Organic Soymilk. We will continue to sell Organic Valley Soymilk in the same four flavors that shoppers are used to seeing from Silk: original (plain), vanilla, unsweetened, and chocolate. This decision was prompted by recent actions taken by the Silk company (described below), and their integrity as a producer of organic soy products continues to be called into question. The major factors influencing our decision not to sell Silk are as follows:

In January 2009, Silk – whose soy products were formerly 100% organic -- reformulated their product line by converting almost all their products to conventional soybeans. They did this quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products. Many retailers, including the Coop, didn’t find out about the change until consumers noticed and complained. The non-organic soymilks are labeled “Natural.” When we questioned Silk representatives about the change, we were told “there is a shortage of organic soybeans in North America.” However, it has been argued that Dean Foods (which owns Silk) “helped create these shortages by opting for cheaper organic imports instead of supporting domestic farmers with sustainable prices.1” (For the full report, please read the Cornucopia Institute's Soy Report & Scorecard)

2. Silk does not guarantee that all of their soybeans are free from GMO contamination. Organic Valley’s organic soybeans are 'Identity Preserved' - meaning each batch is tested to ensure there is no GMO contamination.

3. Silk is unwilling to share their sourcing information with consumers. Dean Foods “refused to transparently participate in the [Cornucopia Institute’s] study—depriving their customers of an independently verified review of their practices.” This stands in contrast to many other prominent soy food brands around the country that are fully transparent In their sourcing and production practices.

4. Silk brand is owned by Dean Foods - an agribusiness giant that owns over 50 milk labels around the country including Horizon Organic, a brand that heavily depends on factory farms each milking thousands of cows. Organic Valley is owned by
CROPP Cooperative, a cooperative of organic family farmers. The Coop supports other cooperatives, wherever possible, and we try also to avoid companies that source from factory farms.

We will also replace the Silk soy creamers (made from non-organic soybeans) with
Wildwood soymilk creamers (made from U.S. organic soybeans).

The Coop will continue to sell the quarts of Silk soymilk because this size is currently unavailable from any other company. Shoppers should beware, however, that these quarts are not organic. The quart sizes of Silk soymilk in plain, vanilla and chocolate flavors are all made from non-organic soybeans. Silk no longer sells their organic soymilk in a quart size carton.

1. Cornucopia Institute. (2009). Behind the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry (1st ed.) [Report]. Cornucopia, WI: Charlotte Vallaeys.

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