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For Immediate Release
May 22, 2003

Media Contact:
Michael Straus, Straus Communications
(415) 777-1170 or (415) 519-8343
Michael@StrausCom.com

The Rodale Institute® Launches
The New Farm Organic Price Index™
First-Ever Price Listings of Organic Foods Will Bolster the Industry

Kutztown, Pennsylvania; January 23, 2003 – The Rodale Institute®, the country’s leading advocate for regenerative, sustainable agriculture and organic foods, today announced that it will launch in February 2003 the first-ever wholesale price index of certified organic foods—The New Farm Organic Price Index™ (OPX™). Now organic farmers will be able to sell their products competitively, using as their guide pricing in the OPX for the same organically grown or raised food being sold across their marketing region. The OPX will enable them to price their products fairly and avoid the pitfalls of arbitrary pricing.

This index marks an important milestone for the burgeoning organic foods market, the fastest-growing segment of the food industry. Organic producers will benefit from market data such as is available in the markets for conventional foodstuffs, with pricing tools necessary for running their businesses profitably.

OPX will track prices of selected produce, grains, dairy and meats that are organically grown or raised in the U.S. The price data—updated weekly—will be drawn from the best-available public and private sources. The index will give farmers the baseline information they need to negotiate more successfully in the dynamic organic marketplace. OPX will be available free-of-charge on www.newfarm.org, the new incarnation of The Rodale Institute’s former flagship publication, The New Farm Magazine®. The website targets progressive farmers and their supporters worldwide.
“The New Farm Organic Price Index will serve as a vital tool for expanding the organic food market by providing much needed pricing information which has never before been tracked effectively in the organic industry,” said Anthony Rodale, Chairman of The Rodale Institute. “We believe OPX will strengthen the market for organic foods, and a strong market for organic foods positively impacts many aspects of life beyond agriculture; it regenerates the soil and enhances human health and the health of the community at large.”

OPX is the latest chapter in The Rodale Institute’s nearly 60-year history of educating and informing the agricultural community and society about the benefits of healthy living through regenerative agriculture.

With OPX, growers and buyers gain:

  • Price transparency. Prices of organically grown and conventionally grown foods are listed side by side, currently documenting premiums for many certified organic products. OPX tracks organic foods in the same quality and packaging categories used by conventional foods, making for truly "apples to apples" comparisons.
  • Competitive information. Buyers and sellers of certified organic food will have regular pricing information from identified regions. These statistics will provide an important part of marketing calculations that also take into consideration the quality, packaging, distance to market, value-added status and relationships to buyers.
  • Fair information for insurers. Organic farmers have traditionally had to insure their crops according to conventional pricing, the only pricing information available. Yet organic foods usually sell at a significant premium over conventional foods and therefore require insurance coverage commensurate with their value. OPX™ will thus serve as an important tool for the insurance industry so it can provide appropriate coverage to organic farmers.
  • A level playing field. Eventually, OPX will help bring closer together the wide price spreads that currently exist between most organic and conventional foods and often among organic foods themselves. High retail prices have been one result of the lack of widely known organic pricing information. Limiting artificially high retail prices can stimulate greater consumer interest and increase confidence in organic pricing equity for farmers.

Specific prices on the OPX™

The OPX currently covers wholesale organic pricing in two of the country's largest terminal market regions for fruit and vegetables - the New York-Boston corridor and the Pacific Northwest. Prices on the OPX are averages of prices gathered at the corresponding terminals, organic wholesale distributors and sales agencies. The index will be operational in February 2003 and will open with fruits and vegetables, then add grains, dairy then meat in the weeks ahead. Seasonal items will only appear as available. Covered will be:

  • Fruit: apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries and watermelon.
  • Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, celery, garlic, green peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini and a variety of beans lettuces and potatoes.
  • Grains: yellow corn, oats, soybeans (feed stock), soybeans (tofu type), wheat and white corn.
  • Meat: beef, chicken and pork.
  • Dairy: butter, brown eggs and milk.

Organic Food: A Maturing Industry

While conventionally grown or raised foods have been tracked with pricing indices for many years, the organic community has historically been marginalized and has lacked access to pricing information. But today, the organic food industry is rapidly evolving to become a far more formidable segment of the food industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “The organic industry is growing between 20 and 25 percent annually, and has been for the last several years. U.S. retail sales of organic foods reached approximately $7.8 billion in 2000, with global sales topping $17.5 billion.” The OPX will aid the further maturing of the organic food industry.

About The Rodale Institute®

The Rodale Institute works with people worldwide to achieve a regenerative food system that renews environmental and human health working with the philosophy that "Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People®.”

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  For more information about The Rodale Institute®, NewFarm.org and related programs, please visit www.newfarm.org, www.rodaleinsitute.org, www.kidsregen.org, or contact Michael Straus, (415) 777-1170, Michael@strauscom.com. Also, visit www.newfarm.org/pressroom.
     
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