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.
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.
Domestic organic food sales are estimated at US$200 million, and growing at 30-40 percent annually. Concerns about food safety, coupled with increased disposable incomes for many households and improved availability of organic products, particularly via ecommerce, are factors in the sector’s growth, reports Pure & Eco India. The sector’s growth is also attracting investors.
A report from the European Food Safety Authority based on samples of foods taken in 2015 revealed that organic products were significantly less likely to exceed the maximum residue levels allowed, with 2.9 percent of non-organic food exceeding maximum residue levels, compared to 0.7 percent of organic samples of organic food. Meanwhile, 46.8 percent of non-organic food had quantifiable levels of pesticide residues, compared to 13.5 percent of organic samples.
Bio Suisse reports that sales of organic products were up 7.8 percent in 2016, compared to an increase of 5.2 percent in 2015, and were valued at CHF 2.505 billion (US$2.5 billion). Overall, the market share for organic products is 8.4 percent. Sales are growing faster than average in Western Switzerland. Half of consumers buy organic products at least several times per week, and per capita spending on organic products is CHF 299 (US$298). Eggs are the best-selling organic product category, followed by vegetables and fresh bread.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) now has answers to frequently asked questions concerning import procedures on its web site. Topics include: Labeling requirements for imported food items, pre-requisites for Importing Food into India, steps in the import process, shelf-life requirements of imported food, and more. Some of these topics had recently changed with the Food Safety and Standards (Food Import) Regulations, 2017.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017, and those draft regulations are open for comment. March 31, 2017
The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) have a five-year agreement for a joint research center: Sino-Swiss Organic Agriculture Research Center (SSOARC). Among its activities, the new center will promote environmentally-friendly agriculture and share practical knowledge with Chinese farmers.
March 23, 2017
As part of its efforts to develop a harmonized animal welfare inspections for organic farms, the AWARE Project is working with over 215 representatives from certifiers, associations and universities across Europe. The group recently agreed on animal welfare criteria and species-specific inspection concepts. Supported by the European Union, the project plans to offer a training curriculum for organic inspectors so that any shortcoming in animal welfare on organic farms are identified and corrected.
Two organic brands (Migros Bio and Bio Suisse) were among top ten of brands for people aged 15-25, based on a survey of over 4,000 people conducted by the advertising agency Havas. This is the first time these organic brands have appeared in the top ten of the 505 brands in the survey.
Part of Germany’s sustainability strategy includes growing organically on 20 percent of Germany’s farmland, reports Freshplaza. Switching to organic methods is seen as offering good opportunities for farms as well as benefitting animal welfare, biodiversity and climate protection.
New technology using different types of cooling systems can grow organic vegetables and fruits year-round, even in the heat of summer, reports Gulf Times. Demand for organic products is increasing throughout the Gulf region, and one estimate suggests that 20 percent of the vegetables consumed each day is imported organic products.
The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is encouraging local organic agriculture by subsidizing farming equipment, providing expertise, and connecting local farmers with retailers. Organic farmland in the UAE has increased to 45,890 acres in 2016, up from 2360 acres in 2009. Zucchini, cucumbers, tomato and eggplants are among the local crops on the rise.