Non-GMO Certification: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?


As we’ve covered before on the Hubba blog, straightforward packaging is an essential part of targeting your desired customer. In the Food and Beverage space, proper labeling is perhaps the most important aspect of your packaging as it can often make or break a consumer’s decision on whether or not to choose your product over your competitor’s.

In recent years, the non-GMO label has become a particularly hot topic of discussion, with shoppers seemingly gravitating towards it in droves. We decided to dig a little deeper into what exactly this label means, why it’s become so important to consumers and how a new brand can go about getting their product non-GMO certified.

What does it mean?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, meaning the product has been genetically modified. This method of engineering foods has been cited as having many health and environmental risks. As such, consumers are demanding more non-GMO products. That’s where you as a brand come in: non-GMO labels assures the end-user that a particular product has gone through rigorous testing within the highest standards possible to ensure that ingredients contain little to no GMOs. This typically applies to foods like fruits and veggies, dairy, coffee, tea, chocolate, meat (including poultry), eggs and even processed products.

According to the Non-GMO Project, being non-GMO certified, “Verifies that products have been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of all GMO risk ingredients.” The Non-GMO Project is North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. Their current threshold is 0.9%, which they say is on par with the European Union standards.

Why is it important?

If you’re a food and beverage brand in the health and wellness space, the question of food labels has probably come up. GMOs have especially have been a huge point of contention for several years now.  More than ever, consumers want to be reassured that the products they’re paying for and feeding themselves and their families have not been artificially manipulated in any way, opting to go the all-natural route instead. Brands are realizing that a major factor in effective marketing is to ensure their customers peace of mind – acquiring certifications goes a long way towards doing that.

What will it cost?

While cost may vary by company, the average cost per product is approximately $200 if getting verified by FoodChain ID (a third party administrator for Non-GMO Project), for example. For complex products with many ingredients including multiple ingredients at a high risk of being genetically engineered, the costs tend to get much higher.

The overall process involves completing a document which outlines the attributes for your product (including ingredients and facilities where products are produced). Once the paperwork is complete and accepted, an on-site inspection will be done to ensure your facilities are up to code.

The whole process can take about 3-6+ months.

How does it affect sales?

As per the results of a survey conducted by the National Research Center in 2014, nearly half (around 40%) of consumers look for the non-GMO seal when shopping for food. As an up and coming brand, that’s definitely not a group of consumers you want to overlook. Brands can typically charge significantly more for a non-GMO product and last year it was determined that non-GMO food sales soared by an average of about 70% annually as of 2013, completely outpacing sales of food simply labeled as organic.