Sustainable and Organic Market Analysis & News
Certified Organic Products
Apart from North America, by far the greatest consumers of organic produce are European countries such those in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany. Organic cotton is a particularly strong growth area, with sales rising 63% in the US to $3.2 billion in 2008. Recent figures from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) show that the biggest organic producers, based on hectares of land used for livestock, dairy farming and crops, are Australia, Argentina and Brazil. On a national level, the highest proportion of agricultural land under organic management is in Austria (13.4%) and Switzerland (11%). The greatest share of ‘organic surface area’ is in Oceania (37.6%), followed by Europe (24.1%) and Latin America.
Role of standards within the market
The US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program distinguishes three categories of organic: ‘100% Organic’, ‘Organic’ (contains at least 95% organic ingredients) or ‘made with organic ingredients’ (at least 70%). Only products in the first two categories are eligible to carry the USDA Organic Seal.
In Europe, the overall legislation for EU members is the EU-Eco-regulation (1992). This is used as a basis for a number of standards and implemented by certification bodies at a national level. Non-EU countries, both in Europe and globally, have widely adopted the European certification regulations for organic food in order to increase export chances to EU countries.
To qualify for the European Union Organic Logo at least 95% of a product's ingredients of agricultural origin must be organically produced. The use of the EU organic logo is currently voluntary, but will become mandatory as of July 1, 2010 for qualifying organic pre-packaged food. It will continue to be voluntary for imported products, however.
In Asia, the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) is administered by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and certification to this standard can be awarded by international organizations. China’s Organic Food Development Center (OFDC) provides an IFOAM Accredited organic certification service to the National Organic Product Standard of China and OFDC Organic Certification Standard. Other major national and international standards and certifying bodies are linked on the right.
There are also a number of smaller non-organic standards which are used to signify the ‘natural’ qualities of produce and are often awarded to smaller organic farmers who cannot qualify for organic standards because of operation size issues. Examples of such certification providers are the UK’s Wholesome Food Association, and Certified Naturally Grown and Certified Vegan in the US.