Kellogg's Kashi brand has just introduced two new USDA Certified organic cereals, touting that it's using real organic fruit and whole grains in the wake of its Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) flap earlier this year. "We've always believed that nature makes the best-tasting ingredients, like the hearty whole grains and luscious organic fruit you can see and taste in our Berry Fruitful and Blackberry Hills cereals," states Keegan Sheridan, natural food and lifestyle expert at Kashi, in a press release.
Each serving of Berry Fruitful provides 6g of fiber and 46g of whole grains, nearly 100% of the recommended daily value, while Blackberry Hills offers 3g of fiber and 16g of whole grains per serving – and like all Kashi foods, both are free of preservatives, artificial flavors, colors and high fructose corn syrup. Equally important, both cereals carry the official Non-GMO Project Verified seal. But that still won't convince its GMO foes to re-embrace the brand.
Kashi doesn't broadcast the fact that it's owned by Kellogg, nor that it has used GMOs, because it's trying to be perceived as an independent brand to win a bigger share of the natural and organic food category, which grew 9.5% in 2011 to $31.5 billion in US sales. The brand's still recovering from being engulfed in a social media firestorm back in April, when a New England store boycotted it after discovering "that 100% of the soy used in Kashi products is genetically modified, and that when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors."
Kashi's Keegan Sheridan defended the company's GMO usage with a YouTube video, but it's still getting flack from consumers opposed to GMOs on its Facebook page, as you can see at top.
As Baskin Robbins heir John Robbins has pointed out, Kashi's parent, the Kellogg Company — which also owns Garden Burger and Morningstar Farms — also donated $790,000 to the "NO on Prop 37" campaign, which asked voters if they wanted foods containing GMOs to be labeled in California, a bill that was rejected at the polls in November.
Kashi is now touting its involvement in the Non-GMO Project, vowing that by 2015, “all new Kashi foods introduced into the market will contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and will also be Non-GMO Project Verified" to meet “the ever-evolving needs of our consumers."
Chastened and virally-singed, Kashi’s latest statement on participation in the Non-GMO Project: “Nine of our foods are now officially Non-GMO Project Verified including Autumn Wheat, Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla, Strawberry Fields, 7 Whole Grain Flakes, 7 Whole Grain Puffs, 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, Simply Maize and Indigo Morning. This is the first step in our phased approach, and we’re committed to this journey!”
A partnership promoted on its Facebook page, with Spoons Across America and the Kashi REAL Project, is honoring nonprofits helping people enjoy real food through greater access and education. Through Dec. 20, 2012, for each person who shares Spoons Across America's message via Kashi's Facebook page, the brand will donate $10 to the organization, up to $35,000.
"Helping more people enjoy real food is a mission that inspired us over 25 years ago, and we're thrilled to continue supporting organizations like Spoons Across America that are making a difference in their communities," said Lara Gish , Ambassador of REAL Goodwill at Kashi. "While overcoming the Real Food Deficit is a huge challenge, these nonprofits are making great progress and we're deeply committed to the mission we share with them."
Admirable words, but not convincing its outspoken Facebook foes... yet.