Sunday, June 14, 2009

Silk Soy Milk is No Longer Organic

Justify FullAs a Chinese girl, I've been a devoted soy milk drinker since I was young. I grew up in a predominantly white city, with the closest metropolitan Asian markets a good 45 minutes away in Toronto. Still, our family would make regular weekend trips to stock up on Asian products, including tetra-packs of Vitasoy soy milk for my lunch boxes. My parents would also buy dried soy beans, and make their own soy milk at home.

Fast-forward to today, soy milk is readily available in most major chain grocery stores. Having mainly enjoyed the homemade version that my parents so carefully blended and strained and boiled in our kitchen, I was really turned off by the chalky, mineral-infused, pasty concoctions, that were gaining popularity. It took a while, but eventually I came upon Silk by White Wave. From the first sip, I could tell this was different. It was smooth, creamy, and tasted like pure soy milk. I highly attribute that to White Wave's use of organic soy beans.

Alas, nothing lasts forever. I just recently purchased my very last carton of Silk soy milk a couple months ago. I remember exactly what happened. We were doing our regular weekly grocery run, and arrived in the dairy aisle. As usual, I reached in the dairy case for my usual two half-gallons of Silk. Just before I put the first carton in the cart, I stopped. Something caught my eye. What's different here? I looked at the front of the carton. There it was, smack dab in the middle. The small letters below the logo, that usually spell out "O R G A N I C" were very subtly changed to "N A T U R A L". Same font, same type. How clever. Most people probably wouldn't have even noticed. I quickly flipped the carton around to see the ingredients. It was true. No more organic soy beans in the ingredient list. I then glanced at the price ticket on the dairy case. Same price. Victim of the economic crisis, I figured. How bad could it be?

I decided then to just buy one carton and see for myself, just in case. I'm glad I did. Once we were home, I poured myself a glass of this new "natural" soy milk, and I was utterly disgusted. Did the people at White Wave really believe they could pass off this switch so easily? That it wouldn't go unnoticed? WRONG! I'm not sure just how many pennies they figure they're saving, but they just lost themselves a long-time, devoted customer; willing to shell out $7 a week, every week, for their product.

Down here in Florida, we're very happy to have the Publix chain of grocery stores. Great stores with great products, and it's nice seeing the same staff every time we go in. They must treat their employees well. Publix also offers their own house brand of organic products, called "Greenwise". We've tried many things from the Greenwise line, including now their soy milk. Theirs is still made with organic soy beans, and I gladly made the switch to this trusted brand. I'm very pleased, and very thankful that another great-tasting, organic alternative was readily available. Thank you, Publix! :)




"Silk NOT Organic" image courtesy of http://chetroy.com/healthyvegan.
Greenwise Vanilla Soy Milk image courtesy of Publix.com

16 comments:

  1. Aaah, very informative! I'll need to see if I can locate that same brand in Virginia.
    How awesome must it have been to be raised drinking homemade soy milk? Nice!

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  2. I was also upset to see that Silk was no longer organic. I've switched to Organic Valley brand, but a store brand organic is another good choice. I miss Publix terribly, as we live almost two hours from Publix now.

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  3. Homemade definitely tastes so much better, although I do like that the store brands do have extra calcium added.

    This new Silk just tastes awful. So watery, and no soy flavor at all. Definitely not worth compromising.

    I'm hoping our Publix will start carrying more of the Organic Valley line of products :)

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  4. Omg, silk soy milk is no longer organic?! Thanks for the post, I didn't notice that, well the last time I bought silk soy milk was in January. No more silk =[

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  5. I miss the soymilk bought from chinese stores. Soooo different from commerical brands. Course, chinese store bought soymilk spoils in just days but taste oh so much better. :) Now that I live in Tampa and not NYC, I don't get to enjoy my favorite soymilk.

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  6. That's indeed a shocking news! I have never checked the label of silk soy milk to see if it mentions "organic". I love the Very Vanilla.

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  7. *** UPDATE ***

    While in the grocery store last night, I noticed that Silk has made another package design change. The new printing on their vanilla soy is still blue, but you'll see it's now drastically different from the previous design. Still NOT organic though.

    The original and chocolate still bear the same design, with the word "N A T U R A L", but they're probably phasing those out for new packaging, too.

    How about spending all that marketing money on buying some organic soy beans instead, White Wave?

    Faye @ GreenOrganicMama.com

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  8. Interesting that you say that; I bought a carton of "Silk Soy Milk Unsweetened" today that clearly says "Organic" and I have a "Silk Soy Milk Light" carton from last week that says "Natural". I haven't checked to see if Light still says Natural because they were out of stock, but the unsweetened at least is still organic.

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  9. Unsweeted is what I drink and it does not say Organic on the label. Another difference is that the cartons used to say they do not use genetically modified soybeans- the new cartons no longer state that.

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  10. Pretty sneaky, huh?

    I am glad to see that my local Publix is stocking more organic soy- and other milk-free alternatives in the "shelf-stable" section of the store. There are lots of all-natural and organic varieties of soy, almond, and rice milk. They come in all different sizes, from individual servings, to one-liter containers.

    There is life beyond Silk and White Wave. Why they would establish a national organic brand, only to do a '180' and flush it all down the toilet, is beyond me. That's coming from an organic consumer, and business school grad.

    Faye @ GreenOrganicMama.com

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  11. Silk does make Organic Soy Milk, your local supermarket probably discontinued the organic Silk product to promote their own brand. I buy my organic Silk Soy Milk from Costco regularly. The organic Silk packaging is green not blue.

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  12. I think you're missing some facts here. Silk made this switch to "NATURAL" early this year. That green package option that you speak of did not exist, until recently. The blue, red, and chocolate brown cartons were all switched to "NATURAL" from "ORGANIC".

    Please click here for an article from the OCA, which I'm a big fan of, for the facts on many controversial organic-related issues. The article explains that Dean Foods purchased the Silk brand, and they instigated the subsequent ingredient changes. Included in the article is this quoted text:

    "# Recently, Dean Foods reformulated their Silk product line converting almost all their products to "natural" (conventional) soybeans. They did this, quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products. Many retailers have reported to us that they didn't find out about the change until their customers noticed and complained.

    To add insult to injury, not only did the price of Silk products not go down when they switched to cheaper conventional soybeans, but they now reintroduced three products with organic soybeans and raised the price on those. Greedy profiteering plain and simple."

    Frankly, even if the "new" organic Silk does become available at my local grocery store, I wouldn't switch back. I choose to deal with companies with transparency, and a full commitment to the entire organic life cycle.

    From a business model perspective, Dean Foods should take a hint from SIGG, and their recent non-disclosure woes.

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  13. This is a quote directly from White Wave -- can you believe that they would say something as stupid as this???

    Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

    Offering a broader range of products to meet our consumer demand, we now offer two different product lines: organic and natural. We know some consumers are more interested in the health benefits associated with adding soy in their diet (cholesterol-free, lactose-free, and may reduce the risk of heart disease) than consuming products that are strictly organic. For those interested in organic products, we still offer the plain, vanilla, and unsweetened in an organic option.

    Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

    Sincerely,
    Alberto Vasquez
    Consumer Response Representative

    Ref: N970333

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  14. Oh my lord *eyes rolling*. Thank you for sharing that.

    Just goes to show you, just how out-of-touch some companies are with their customer base.

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  15. Thank you so much for this post. Huge eye opener. Will definitely try the Publix brand. Too bad for Silk.

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  16. I'm having problems with Silk's "ORGANIC" soy milk recently. I'm making the switch. They still have one that is labeled organic but no longer trusting it.

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