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Is organic becoming irrelevant?

In an era of cluttered label claims, in which gluten-free and omega-3s seem to be overtaking all others, how much does certified organic status matter?

Is organic becoming irrelevant? The question was posed today by New Hope Natural Media and the Sterling-Rice Group as part of a discussion about the current state of organic—and where it will be in 2013. As part of the Next Forecast (Twitter: @nextforecast, #next4cast), the two companies are exploring some of the biggest trends emerging in the natural products industry.

Here are some of the questions about organic I’ve been hearing over and over for the last five years: Is organic enough to protect personal and planetary health? Are organic foods really more nutritious—or more sustainable? Does organic go far enough to protect us from eating GMOs?

Here’s what I think: That we in the natural products industry ask these questions so frequently shows the extent to which chemical ag companies and their multi-million dollar campaigns have shaped the conversation, even within the industry. While they've got us debating organic's worthiness, from a numbers standpoint, organic product sales continue to grow and are rumored to have gotten back into double-digit territory for 2011.

At the recent Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, I took a deep dive into organic products and surfaced with some notable new offerings, overarching trends, and emerging opportunities in the space. What I found, in short: Many products (like many consumers) place just as much importance on other health attributes (e.g. gluten-free, vegan, rich in omega-3s) as they do on the organic label. And yet there are some fantastically creative new takes on what it means to be organic.

Check out my top 10 favorite new organic products.

But to say that organic is irrelevant is putting on the big-ag glasses, in my opinion. Rather, I'd like to explore the possibility that organic has reached some level of maturity—that it is now expected by consumers and is, in fact, the base upon which other healthy attributes may be built.

What are your thoughts? Share them below or tweet answers with #next4cast to @radhamarcum.

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