Associated Food Stores is stepping up to the organic plate. The grocery wholesaler’s Farr West Distribution Center recently became organic certified by the USDA and California Certified Organic Farmers. The certification recognizes AFS’ efforts in maintaining the standards and regulations for properly handling and labeling organic products and meat. Part of these regulations include ensuring all organic and conventional products are not comingled or misrepresented and all sanitation and pest control procedures are compliant with USDA practices.
“The organic certification from CCOF and USDA verifies our distribution center complies with the USDA organic regulations and allows us to sell, label and represent our products as organic,” said Darin Larkin, the organic buyer for Associated Food Stores. “Our shoppers are increasingly interested in organic products and this certification allows us to spotlight those products through labeling and other merchandising efforts.”
To become organic certified, AFS submitted an Organic System Plan to the USDA’s National Organic Program. The plan details the substances used to produce or handle organic products to the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). AFS also verified that each of its vendors are organically certified. Once all the information was submitted, the Farr West Distribution Center was inspected to verify the system plans complied with NOP regulations.
Becoming organic certified allows the distribution center to use the official USDA organic seal on products at Associated Food Stores locations. Shoppers have come to recognize the seal as a guarantee that the products they are purchasing are actually organic. The certification also makes it easier for any of AFS’ nearly 500 independent retailers to become an organic certified store.