A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation.
The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too.
But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.