The State of Organics: Federal-Provincial-Territorial Performance Report 2017 analyzes the existing organic policy frameworks among Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments. As the first of its kind, the report is a benchmark, demonstrating the current state of affairs.
The report highlights that:
- Gaps in organic regulations persist in some jurisdictions. Jurisdictions with these gaps create an unequal playing field for organic businesses, hinder sector growth and fail to protect consumers.
- Quebec is leading the way by having the longest-standing organic regulations, extensive organic production support, market support and data collection.
- Ontario is falling short. Ontario is the largest organic market in Canada. Yet, there are no provincial regulations and provincial government support is limited and inconsistent.
- Organic data collection systems across the country are limited and inconsistently available.
Alibaba Group recently launched the “Taobao Global U.S. Merchants Network,” offering small businesses a way to reach the more than half a billion consumers on the Chinese e-commerce giant’s platforms.
The network will serve as a centralized matchmaking platform for U.S. small businesses to connect with merchants and distributors on Alibaba’s Taobao Global shopping site. Taobao Global is a dedicated cross-border e-commerce channel within the larger Taobao Marketplace, which is China’s large mobile-commerce destination.
July 10, 2017
After three years of debate and negotiations, the Maltese presidency and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement for overhauling the European Union’s rules for organic production and labeling. In order for the rule changes to be enacted on July 1, 2020, they will need to be formally endorsed by the Council and Parliament. Among other changes, the new rules will include risk-based controls and checks on retailers, cover additional products, allow group certification, and more uniform approach to pesticide contamination.
US organic products that are imported to Korea under the US-Korea Organic Equivalence agreement no longer need additional documentation to prove they do not contain GMO ingredients. On June 9, 2017, Korea’s Ministry of Food & Drug Safety (MFDS) notified USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Seoul of their decision to exempt US organic processed products from the mandatory biotech labeling requirement in Korea. In order to receive an exemption from mandatory biotech labeling before this decision, US organic processed products were required to be accompanied by documents stating that the organic products do not contain biotech ingredients.
The Swiss organic market grew 7.8 percent in 2016, three percentage points more than 2015, and 386 more farms are converting to organic. Organic farms represent 13.4 percent of all agricultural land in Switzerland.
The Organic Processing and Trade Association (OPTA) is a new organization to encourage organic food and farming in Europe, and to support international organic trade. All companies dedicated to organic trade and processing are welcome to join.
The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products has issued a 48-page report on EU Organic Aquaculture. Along with a look at the state of organic aquaculture production by country, the report examines organic aquaculture by species, economic performance, and the demand for organic seafood. The report says that organic products accounted for almost 4% of the total aquaculture production and reached approximately 50,000 tonnes in 2015. The main producer of farmed organic aquaculture products is Ireland, with 44% of the EU total organic production followed by Italy (17%), the United Kingdom (7%) and France (6%).
Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo), comprised of over 200 farmer members across the UK who produce 65 percent of the UK’s organic milk supply, has published the Organic Milk Market Report 2017. The report reviews global demand for organic products and the global organic dairy market, with an emphasis on the UK market and export opportunities. Among the findings: UK organic milk volumes increased by 4.4% in 2016, in contrast to the standard milk category which fell by 1.9% during the same period, and the number of households purchasing organic milk increased 15 percent over the last year.
Association of Food without Genetic Engineering (Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik) figures indicate sales of foods without genetic engineering have increased 12.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, reports Organic-Market.info. Sales of these products are expected to reach 4.4 billion euros in 2017. Dairy products lead the way, and represent 55 percent of sales of food sporting the “Without Genetic Engineering” seal.
In 2016, the brand Bio vom Berg in Tyrol Austria, increased its sales by 23 percent, and sold €8.7 million of organic products from a cooperative of over 600 organic farmers. Approximately 15 percent of the brand’s products are exports, and the focus is regional production for sales within the region.
Although the amount of farmland in the United Kingdom approved for organic agriculture decreased by 3.6 percent in 2016, the amount of land in conversion to organic production is up 22 percent. Permanent pasture represents the largest share of the country’s organic area. UK’s organic food sector is growing consistently, with increases of 7-10 percent annually.
On May 4, 2017, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India notified WTO members of the draft Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017. Objections, comments, or suggestions by the WTO member countries must be submitted by July 3, 2017.
May 17, 2017
Ecovia Intelligence (formerly Organic Monitor) reports that recent accounting studies show that sustainable food has lower environmental, social and health impacts than conventional foods. For example, a recent accounting study by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) found that organic apples have lower impacts than conventional apples to the value of EUR 0.20 per kg., and there were similar findings for organic pineapples, tomatoes, pears, bananas, and citrus.
Among the benchmarks of the organic sector, Organic Aoteroa New Zealand lists these as notable in a new promotional flyer:
71 percent of Gen Y buy organic; 64 percent of New Zealanders are willing to pay more for the best organic products; organic grocery sales via supermarkets is up 127 percent; and domestic organic milk sales are up 50 percent since 2014.
The European Union now requires electronic certificates of inspection for imports of organic products. EU TRACES became effective on April 19. U.S. certifiers have an additional six months to adapt to using the system, during which time paper and electronic certificates of inspection will coexist in the marketplace. The system will be fully electronic beginning October 19 after which time organic imports will be covered only by e-certification.
Effective April 26, 2017, Japan unilaterally recognizes imported feed that is certified organic from countries that share an organic equivalency arrangement with Japan (i.e. the United States, Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, and Switzerland) as certified for use in the production of organic compound feed, or for feeding to organic livestock.
Mexico's National Service for Agroalimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) is not yet enforcing its organic regulations for import from countries where they have made progress on equivalency agreements, including the United States, according to the Organic Trade Association. The new regulations were slated for implementation in April 2017, it will take at least several more months to fully implement the regulations. Mexico has assured the USDA that they do not intend to interrupt trade in the meantime, effectively postponing the requirement for import certificates for organic products.
In an April 27 meeting with Mexican retailers, SENASICA outlined its regulatory plans, including removing the requirement that organic certifiers must have a physical office in Mexico, revising the regulations to allow products from third countries that are certified to the SENASICA standard to display the SAGARPA organic seal, and developing new inspection procedures to implement the requirement for SENASICA to verify the organic certificate and document of control. Until new regulation are published in the Diario Oficial (in no less than 2-3 months), there will be no change to the current procedures to import U.S. organic products. Representatives from the Federal Attorney's Office for the Consumer (PROFECO) confirmed that they only conduct enforcement based on the Spanish language version of the label.
Australia and the United States recognize each other’s food safety and regulatory systems as comparable, after five years’ work. Most canned foods, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, confectionery and baked goods are included in the agreement. Although milk and milk products in the the US Pasteurized Milk Ordinance are not included, cheese and other non-Grade “A” dairy products are included.
A new survey of Mexican consumers from Culinary Visions Panel showed that 61 percent are willing to compromise on taste if they are eating something healthy, compared to only 25 percent of consumers in the United States and Canada willing to make that compromise. In addition, 76 percent of Mexicans said that sharing a meal with family is important, and 69 percent said the act of preparing a meal is important. Offering ‘speed scratch’ products is one way packaged food companies could tap into the Mexican market.
Japan has proposed changes to country of origin labeling for certain processed products. The draft amendment explains that the country of origin labeling requirement for ingredients will be expanded to include the heaviest ingredient in all processed foods domestically produced in Japan. See this GAIN report for details.