By: Rick Speltzer

McCormick & Co. Inc. has jumped into the natural foods movement.

The Sparks-based spice maker is making moves that will please both organic adherents and opponents of genetically modified foods. It plans to ramp up its organic and non-GMO offerings over the next year, it said Tuesday.

McCormick (NYSE: MKC) started with a vanilla extract labeled non-GMO that's currently shipping to stores. In 2016, it expects more than 70 percent of its herbs, spices and extracts to bear the non-GMO label. It also wants to greatly increase the amount of organic herbs and spices it sells.

In some ways, this might not seem like a big change — McCormick pointed out that most of its herbs and spices are already sourced from plants that are not genetically engineered. But it takes about four months for the company to get its labeling and manufacturing in line for the non-GMO stamp to appear on packaging.

And as far as organics are concerned, McCormick is talking about a big boost. Just over 10 percent of the company's gourmet sales are organic today, said Lori Robinson, vice president of corporate branding. It wants 80 percent of that line to be organic next year.

Consumers have made it clear they want to know about organic and non-GMO offerings,McCormick President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Kurzius said in a statement.

"Our consumers are increasingly interested in quality flavors with pure ingredients in their food," he said. "Our effort to increase our organic and non-GMO offerings proves that we are listening to our consumers and are committed to continuing to evolve."

McCormick said the organic and non-GMO effort is the first under a new consumer initiative. It comes after some have worried about the company's future with health- and fresh-obsessed millennials. But McCormick has expressed confidence it can keep up with market trends.

Originally Published: Baltimore Business Journal