Surging Organic Consumer Demand Led Startup to Establish ‘Indentity Preserved’ Venue

Financial Times writer Gregory Meyer reported yesterday that, “An American entrepreneur is building a wholesale commodity market to meet rising demand for food that is free from pesticides and bioengineering.

“Kellee James leads Mercaris, a US company that hosts online auctions for organic or non-genetically modified crops. Hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain and oilseeds now change hands on its platform every year.

The auctions have brought an element of transparency to a hazy sector. Most deals for natural foodstuffs are struck in private. Mercaris allows approved buyers and sellers to make anonymous bids and offers in an active market where prices and volumes are disclosed.”

The FT article stated that, “The deals still account for less than 1 per cent of the total organic and non-GMO cash market in the US, Ms James estimates. Compared with the conventional agricultural commodities, the volume is minuscule.

But the opportunity may be significant. The organic food market grew by 6.4 per cent to $45.2bn in the US last year, well above the 1.1 per cent growth in the overall food market, according to the Organic Trade Association. More than 90 per cent of the US corn and soya­bean crop sprouts from genetically engineered seeds, but that leaves millions of acres for non-GMO varieties.”

Mr. Meyer added: “[Lynn Clarkson, chairman of grain merchant Clarkson Grain, of Cerro Gordo, Illinois] says his merchandising team has been included in Mercaris auctions. ‘The auction supply path would not be my preferred one, but in putting together a total grain marketing package that can address some of the needs of identity preservation, I think Mercaris is offering a valuable service,’ he says.”

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