THE BLOG
09/25/2010 05:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Update: Whole Foods dumps Silk Soy (VIDEO)

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.

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.

JB
WhiteWave Foods

~

Whole Foods cuts Dean Foods' "natural" Silk Soy milk--instead goes with organic brands.

~

Last year, Silk Soy--while continuing to offer a somewhat higher-priced organic option--pushed the majority of its soy milk to "natural" (the beans still weren't genetically modified [GMO], which is great).

It was a blow to the green movement--and one 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 their decision to go "natural." 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 Planet Green:

The Cornucopia Institute claimed victory against the largest soymilk producer in the country this week, after a landmark deal with Whole Foods:

"Saying that its relationship with Dean Foods had 'chilled,' Whole Foods indicated it was bringing in a new branded organic soymilk partner, Earth Balance...'Dean Foods has been roundly criticized for taking the organic out of Silk, and now the marketplace and consumers are passing their judgment,' said Mark Kastel, Cornucopia's senior farm policy analyst. 'They took what once was a pioneering 100% organic brand, before they acquired the company in 2003, and cheapened the product at the expense of American farmers and consumers. Now they are paying a price for their naked profiteering,' Kastel added."

In addition, Whole Foods wants Earth Balance's soymilk products to be made strictly from soybeans grown in the U.S. That stipulation likely comes as a direct response to Silk's initial shift--even before it gave up on organic--away from domestic soybeans when it started sourcing (organic, at first) from China. ...for the rest, click 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 -- WhiteWave 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."

Whew!

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