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Nov 21, 2011

Venus Wafers Rolls Out Non-GMO, Vegan Cracker Line

PrintVenus Wafers Rolls Out Non-GMO, Vegan Cracker Line  

By Anna Wolfe

As part of its plan to be a non- genetically modified organisms (GMO) bakery, Venus Wafers will launch its first line of products that are non-GMO verified. The Original Mariner Biscuit Co. brand, which are free from GMOs, and also vegan- and kosher-certified, begin shipping Dec. 5. The new packaging for the expanded range of water crackers will feature the Non-GMO Project seal of approval.

“We care deeply about this issue…We believe people have the right to know what they are eating,” says Michael Thompson, Venus Wafers president. “The relaunch of our Original Mariner Biscuit Co. brand is the first step in gaining Non-GMO verification for the Venus Wafers’ family of brands. We are committed to being a completely non-GMO commercial bakery.”

Hillary Woodyatt, marketing manager for the Hingham, Mass.-based company, says process—of moving towards GMO-free status for the entire bakery—is ongoing. “We are making a commitment to be a non-GMO bakery,” she says, adding that all SKUs may not carry the GMO-verification seal.

For the Mariner line, the company started working on a relaunch seven months ago. It was not performing well, even in its home market of the Pacific Northwest, explains Woodyatt. “So we were starting from scratch,” she says about the brand’s reinvention. “It was like building a new house. If you can have everything you want, what would it be?”
The company took a look at what’s going on the market and responded with the GMO-free, vegan- and kosher-certified water cracker.

“We believe there’s room in the water cracker market for a healthy, upscale alternative,” says Woodyatt.

The company’s already quality-oriented sourcing meant it didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. “We’re very lucky to have a quality assurance manager who is on top of everything,” Woodyatt says. “Because of the standards we already had in place, it made it easier to go back and identify” the suppliers that were and were not compliant. To determine suppliers’ GMO-free status, the company worked with a third-party verifier. The Non-GMO Project offers independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.

More and more companies are seeking Non-GMO verification. More than 3,000 products have become non-GMO verified by the Non-GMO Project since its inception in 2005, says Courtney Pineau, communications manager for the Non-GMO Project.

“It was a big undertaking,” Woodyatt says, adding that, “it was a great learning experience for us.”

The Mariner Water Crackers have also been verified vegan by the Vegan Action/Vegan Awareness Foundation. The previous crackers were not vegan, Woodyatt explains, because bone char was used to remove the color from sugar. They’re also certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and the redesigned packaging will carry both of these symbols as well.

Five varieties will be available: Original Water Cracker, Basil and Roasted Pepper, Cracked Peppercorn, Toasted Sesame Seed, Olive Oil and Sea Salt. Each 4-ounce box has a SRP of $3.29.


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