September 24, 2010

Whole Foods dumps Silk Soy in favor of organic brands. {video}

Update: just got a social media double shout-out by Silk and WhiteWave. Got to admit they embrace respectful, fair criticism, always a good sign for the future integrity of a company. Like them here or here on FB.

Key Update: via the good folks at at Silk Soy:

[Dear Waylon]

Just wanted to chime in quickly regarding your [article]. We appreciate your level of objectivity, and the fact that you allowed us to answer your questions in the video. However some of the other articles you link to are a bit misleading, and the headline is inaccurate.

Silk actually hasn’t been kicked out of Whole Foods. They have limited our distribution in a few regions, but there are still a large number of stores carrying our Organic and Natural products.

[editor’s note: this represents a hugely important point—one that contradicts all the other articles I’d read, some of which are linked/referenced below.]

And while we are now offering the Natural soymilk options, we’re still the leading organic provider out there. Just to add a little context, we sell three times as much organic soymilk than all of our competitors combined. Which means we support more organic soybean acres than anyone else in the U.S. as well.

[editor’s note: For now: getting even partially booted out of Whole Foods will change that balance significantly—an article I read estimated that a Silk Soy rival, Earth Balance, will nearly double in revenues overnight.]

[editor’s note: love it. So no Silk beans from South America, China?]

After a few of the stories you link to hit, we offered up some additional facts via our blog, which you can see here and here…

…We appreciate your willingness to hear and feature our side of the story, journalists like you keep companies like us honest. Hopefully we can continue to work together and keep the dialogue going.

[editor’s note: I invite you, JB, to post any response on elephant’s forum—happy to help you respond in kind, as I know it can be tough to get the word out. One final note: $29 million in 2010 alone?! (see bottom of this blog)]

Every bean we source, organic and natural, is done so domestically. We do not source any beans (or other ingredients) from China. Soon, you’ll be able to see where those beans come from down to the county, as we’re poised to launch a new online tracking tool to add more transparency to our sourcing operations.

WhiteWave Foods

Whole Foods: we’ll no longer carry Dean Food’s Silk Soy milk, instead will go with organic brands.

Last year, Silk Soy—while continuing to offer a slightly higher-priced organic option—pushed the majority of its offerings to conventional or, rather, “natural” (the beans still weren’t Genetically-modified [GMO], which is great).

It was a blow to the organic movement that changed Silk, overnight, from the world’s largest organic brand into, well, not.

Recently, I interviewed my friends at the Dean Foods’ owned White Wave/Silk Soy about the change. To their credit, they were open about the up- and downsides.

See the second half of the below video of elephant editor Waylon Lewis’ adventure at the recent Natural Products Expo West in LA, here:

Whole Foods dumps Silk Soy.

Silk, started by one of Boulder, Colorado’s natural products titans, Steve Demos, and now owned and controlled by mega-corp Dean Foods, was just dealt what must come as a pretty big blow—they’ve been cleaved from their strongest customer base—the conscious consumers who built Silk, back when it was owned by Mr. Demos, into a major player and first real alternative to milk.

For more, click here or here or here or here. Or here.

Excerpt via elephriend Alica Wallace of Boulder Daily Camera:

Move comes in wake of WhiteWave shifting Silk away from certified organic soybeans

Fourteen years ago, a burgeoning Boulder company — White Wave Inc. — was responsible for launching Silk soymilk, a brand that is now the category leader.

So when Whole Foods Market wanted to boost its organic soymilk options a year after Dean Foods’ WhiteWave Foods shifted most of its Silk products away from certified organic soybeans, the Austin, Texas, grocer turned to a burgeoning Boulder County firm — one stocked with former White Wave employees.

Whole Foods this week announced an agreement with Longmont-based Earth Balance under which the natural foods division of New Jersey-based spreads company Smart Balance Inc. would launch its line of organic soymilks at Whole Foods stores nationwide…for the rest, click here.

I’ll leave you with a remarkable, though tangential factoid:

“The NY Times reports that Silk spent $29.1 million on advertising in major media last year.”


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