What does "organic" really mean? According to USDA regulations, a
product called "100 percent organic" can have up to 5 percent
non-organic ingredients by weight. Recently, with little fanfare, the
USDA added 38 non-organic ingredients (including food colorings,
two starches, casings for sausages, hops, fish oil, chipotle chili
pepper, gelatin, celery powder, dill weed oil, frozen lemon grass, and
a sweetener called fructooligosaccharides) to the national list of
non-organic items that can be used in a product labeled "organic".
Those who fear the entry of big companies into the organic
marketplace believe they increase that list and push the percentage
even higher. Once group often cited as promoting this is
In September of 2006, the nation's largest brewer introduced two
organic beers, Wild Hop Lager and Stone Mill Pale Ale. Both were
made with 100 percent organic barley malt, but mostly non-organic
Doug Muhelman, vice president of brewing operations at
Anheuser-Busch, said this was allowed because hops are less than
5 percent of the ingredients by weight. The Organic Consumers
Organization blasted Anheuser-Busch for not making more of an
effort to find organic ingredients. "Consumers are not going to pay a
premium price for a substandard organic product," said an
"We never intended to deceive anyone or cheapen the product,"
Negative publicity moved Anheuser-Busch to now use 100 percent
organic hops, even though they say that will reduce the amount of
organic beer they can brew in 2008.
|In the last 60 days the price of Hops is
up 300 to 600 percent. And to add to the
high prices, 95 percent of the Hop's
varieties are not available. This is forcing
some brewers to raise their prices and
get more creative with their recipes.
Such dramatic spikes are due, in part, to
the increased costs of other
commodities in the nationwide brewing
industry, including ethanol, aluminum
and glass, experts say. Others blame
recent crop failures, bad weather and
government pressure on farmers to
invest more heavily in other crops. But
the main culprit, experts agree, is the
sudden change in the production and
sale of beer's main ingredients.
About 10 years ago, a worldwide surplus
of hops prompted many farmers to scale
back their operations, eventually causing
the crops acreage in the United States,
the world's fourth largest hops producer,
to fall roughly 30 percent between 1995
However, while big brewers can hedge
against future cost increases by locking
a fixed price into their contract, smaller
specialty brewers often have to take
whatever they can get from a supplier.
Germans shun beer- Germans are losing their taste for beer, according to
the German brewery association. Per-capita consumption of beer in Germany, once
the world's largest consumer of the drink, fell by 3.5 liters in 2007 to 112.5 liters --
the eighth decline in the last nine years. Only once in the last nine years did beer
consumption in Germany rise -- in 2006 when it hosted the World Cup. It has long
since fallen behind the Czech Republic and Ireland in per capita consumption.
Craft-style light - Miller Brewing Co. will test market three new versions of
Miller Lite as the brewer tries to cash in on a growing consumer preference for craft
beers. The new Miller Lite Brewers Collection will be tested in Minneapolis; Charlotte,
N.C.; San Diego; and Baltimore beginning in February. The three new versions of Miller
Lite will be a blonde ale, an amber beer and a wheat beer -- each with fewer calories
and carbs than a typical beer for that style. They could help establish a new beer
industry category, what Miller Chief Marketing Officer Randy Ransom calls "craft-style
light." Reporters on the scene verify he said that without even a hint of a chuckle.
BRIC Beer - Consumption of beer in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and
China) increased by almost 50 per cent during 2006-2007. In India, beer sales grew
at nearly 90 per cent, compared to a less than 60 per cent growth for other alcoholic
drinks. Industry sources estimate that the Indian beer market is expected to nearly
double to 23.3 million hectolitres by 2012 from 12.5 million hectolitres at present
|Beer in the Back
Salt Lake City retailers here do not seem bothered by a new city ordinance
that requires them to move beer closer to the back of the stores and out
of sight of young children. Most city stores already keep beer there
anyway, so the ordinance is not forcing a radical change of policy.
"It cleans up the store a lot," said Sheila Daley, spokesperson for the
business community. "I'm all for the ordinance, but it may hurt the little
stores that may not have the room to move the beer away from the front."
The City Council unanimously voted last week to require stores to move
beer displays at least 15 feet from the front entrance. The ordinance was
requested by the Utah County Health Department's Division of Substance
Abuse. The health department originally sought a more strict ordinance,
keeping beer 10 feet back from a store's front windows, as well.
Violations of the ordinance could result in fines, but would not jeopardize a
store's license to sell beer.
Richard Nance, substance-abuse division director, said the goal is to try to
ensure that children do not get mixed messages about where the
community stands on alcohol use. He, needless to say, did not fully
explain how a few feet would clarify that message.
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