wheat flour
Organic and non-GMO are two certifications that carry a lot of weight with certain consumers. From a functionality standpoint, flours made from these crops perform the same as their conventional counterparts in a bakery formulation. But those icons — Non-GMO Project verified and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic — say something to someone: that this ingredient is better for you, more transparent or something else entirely.

Consumer confidence rides on those icons on the packaging of any product, and to qualify for that one, bakers must source USDA-certified or Non-GMO Project verified ingredients and not include any barred ingredients.

“The largest issue you run into when dealing with organic or non-GMO is meeting the requirements for those niche ingredients,” said Keith Smith, technical service representative, Cargill. “Having adequate processes supporting your testing regimen is paramount.”

This amounts to a lot of paperwork and testing. Wheat flour suppliers ensure that the farmers they source from are certified organic by any of the Accredited Organic Certifying Agencies (ACAs) endorsed by the USDA, and bakers need documentation that suppliers provide the adequate paper trail.

“Although there are some global standards, nothing has been unified,” Smith said of non-GMO standards. “Predicated on your market strategy (domestic or global), you will need to ensure you are in compliance for the region you are servicing.”

In the United States for organic, the USDA defines the standards of what farmers must do to grow certified organic crops, what flour millers must do to supply certified organic flour and what bakers must do to sell certified organic baked goods. However, the USDA does not conduct the audits and certification of those different points in the supply chain. It leaves that job up to ACAs.

Although there is no unifying standard for non-GMO products, several industries and most consumers rely on the criteria put forth by the Non-GMO Project. Also, the USDA does not allow GMO crops or animals in organic products.

Mark Stavro, global marketing director, Bunge North America
Mark Stavro, global marketing director, Bunge North America

“There are three main steps we consider: grain sourcing, transportation and milled ingredient production,” said Mark Stavro, global marketing director, Bunge North America. This covers every point in the supply chain and what Bunge is responsible for in delivering a non-GMO or organic product to bakers.

“We work with third parties to ensure we are always in compliance with these standards to deliver a reliable and scalable source of certified ingredients,” he said. “This involves routine third-party testing to ensure our product and process are in complete compliance with the Non-GMO Project and USDA standards.”

Not only does Cargill implement strict protocols to ensure supply chain integrity, but it also uses its KnownOrigins identity preservation process to assure bakers of the integrity of its non-GMO ingredients. This process provides transparency and traceability for Cargill’s dry milled corn flour products with robust testing, approval and evaluation protocols.

“This is especially important for a crop like corn where more than 90% of U.S. and Canadian corn production is sourced from GMO seeds,” Smith explained.

Traceability, supply chain integrity and testing demands that each piece of the supply chain — whether it’s non-GMO corn or organic wheat — is working together.

“From grower to miller, supplier, transporter, baker and end user, it’s important to create partners throughout the supply chain to ensure that organic product is handled and delivered properly every step of the way,” said Patrick Hart, specialty grain merchant, Ardent Mills.