Many consumers are fearful of foods that contain ingredients produced by genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. While I don't think that fear is grounded in fact, I am not opposed to organic foods. In fact, the organic-food market may be one of the better growth opportunities for investors. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that organic-food sales will grow from $11 billion in 2004 to nearly $30 billion this year. The segment grew nearly twice as fast for all foods in 2012.
Do you want to learn more about organic brands that are 100% GMO-free and the investing opportunities they present? Let's explore some of the products offered by Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM), General Mills (NYSE:GIS), WhiteWave Foods (NYSE:WWAV), and Kellogg Company (NYSE:K).
Whole Foods sells more than 4,800 products from 250 brands that have been verified by the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit promoting the use of GMO-free foods. The grocer's private-label brand, 365, offers hundreds of products that are verified by the organization. The exhaustive list includes juices, fruit preserves, chips, crackers, sauces, milk, frozen vegetables, and just about anything else you would need on a regular excursion to the grocery store.
General Mills sports the Cascadian Farm brand. It may have only one product at the moment that's been certified by the Non-GMO Project, but it is one of the nation's largest organic-food brands and one of the nonprofit's biggest supporters. It simply takes time for the organization to verify supply chains. Also remember that in order for a food to be certified organic by the USDA it must be free of GMO ingredients. The brand sports cereals, frozen fruits, snack bars, and a wide range of vegetables offered at grocery stores throughout the country.
You have likely come across the Horizon brand during your trips to the supermarket. The wildly successful and visible brand is owned by WhiteWave Foods and offers organic dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, as well as eggs. The company neither includes GMO ingredients in its foods, nor does it treat its cows with growth hormones (no significant difference has been shown between milk from rBST-treated and non rBST-treated cows) or antibiotics (prohibited by organic regulations). Its commitment to offering consumers a dependable supply of organic dairy products has gone a long way toward its tremendous growth over the years.
Kellogg Company promotes the all-natural-cereal brand Kashi, which was surrounded by controversy in 2011 after an analysis conducted by the Cornucopia Institute found GMO ingredients in some of its products. That's hardly surprising given the dominance of biotech crops in the nation's agriculture industry, but it does fly in the face of the USDA Organic seal. The brand has moved past the controversy and now features 11 foods and 16 products certified by the Non-GMO Project. In fact, Kellogg aims to have more than half of Kashi's foods verified by the nonprofit by the end of 2015.
Foolish bottom line
The list above isn't meant to instill fear about GMO foods or GMO ingredients, but to show that there are plenty of options available for wary consumers and that sufficient labels already exist to successfully communicate which foods are GMO free. Meanwhile, investors looking for an industry with great growth prospects will certainly want to investigate the companies above in more detail. What portfolio couldn't use a little organic growth?