A new strategic plan from Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) aims to contribute a cumulative NZ$4.7 billion to New Zealand's GDP by 2030 while reducing climate and environmental pollution. Key components of the strategy include uplifting indigenous food production methods; addressing big environmental issues by building soil fertility, reversing ecosystem damage, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat for threatened species; advocating for the implementation of the Organic Products Bill; and improving access to international markets. Fifty-eight percent of New Zealand’s organic production is exported, primarily to the US, China, Europe, Australia and Japan. New Zealand’s organics market was worth NZ$723 million in 2020, compared to NZ$600 million in 2017, with an average growth rate of 6.4 percent per year over those three years. Global sales grew at around 9 percent per year in the same timeframe. Organic dairy is the largest organic sector for New Zealand, with exports of NZ$153.8 million, up 55 percent from 2017.
New standards for the use of recycled materials for food packaging provide detailed requirements based on the type of synthetic resin material and if the material contacts the food in any point during manufacturing and processing. The standards also cover active/intelligent packaging that removes or alleviates factors that degrade food quality. The country intends to cut plastic waste production in half by 2030, and double recycling rates from 34 percent to 70 percent.
The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is investigating whether or not organic soybean meal from India was sold in the United States at less than fair value. Based on a petition from Organic Soybean Processors of American and seven domestic processors, the investigation covers January 1 to December 31, 2020. Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency offers useful information in multiple languages for consumers about food labeling requirements. Designed primarily for people with allergies, the pamphlets cover best by and use by dates, ingredient listings, and nutrition data for packaged products. The same web page also includes guidance for industry.
The United States and the European Union’s new agreement on steel and aluminum imports to the United States will remove a 25 percent duty the European Union had imposed on US corn. Other US products now relieved from retaliatory tariffs are listed in a 2018 notice to the World Trade Organization when the dispute began.
New regulations for food labeling in Taiwan have clarified mandatory information for each minimum sales unit, and allow for electronic methods of including this information. Mandatory information includes: Product name, expiration date, name and phone number of responsible local company, country of origin, origin of raw materials as regulations specify, and food safety reminders. Use of QR codes or other electronic methods have also been approved for information beyond product name and expiration date, which must be on the label. Products that are unidentifiable as from a specific brand/manufacturer, or not fully sealed, or not individually packed for retail sales will not qualify as a minimum sales unit.
Two organic associations Naturland in Germany and Bio Suisse in Switzerland have signed a cooperative agreement to focus on sustainable water management and social responsibility. The organizations are using common guidelines for sustainable water management and a uniform system for assessing working conditions on organic farms. Inspectors from both organizations will participate in joint training sessions.
In April 2021, Sri Lanka’s president announced that the country would switch to only organic farming methods in an effort to curb chronic health problems and ecological destruction from agrochemicals. Part of that effort included banning the import of chemical fertilizers, which has led to pesticide and fertilizer hoarding and black market sales. About 27 percent of the economically active population is involved in agriculture, and only 2.8 percent of Sri Lanka’s agricultural land is certified organic.
A new electronic label program for wine and spirits sold in the European Union, U-Label, accessed via QR technology, will provide consumers any required ingredient and nutrition information as well as responsible drinking guidelines and sustainability certificates. Starting November 1, the program will be open to all wine and spirits companies, and offers consumer information in all 24 EU languages.
While speaking on a Dutch television program, the Netherlands outgoing Minister of Agriculture advocated for a tax on unsustainable food, with the proceeds used to support sustainable agriculture. The suggestion has met resistance form the food distribution sector in the past, and the controversial approach lacked political backing. Even so, using pricing to encourage behavior change is gaining traction among the Dutch.
The European Union’s new rules for organic farming require operators to keep records to ensure that authorities can carry out checks on preventive measures, traceability and mass balance (balance between products entering and leaving the production site). Completed regulations that set out the specifications for these records, including details on the declarations that operators must submit to official control authorities on their organic production are expected by the end of 2021.
The International Organization of Vine and Wine’s (OIV) new report “The World Organic Vineyard” revealed that in 2019, 6.2 percent of the world’s vineyard acreage is organic, with Spain, France and Italy accounting for 75 percent of the world’s organic vineyards. Overall, certified organic vineyard surface area increased by an average of 13% per year between 2005 and 2019, while the ‘non-organic’ vineyard area decreased by an average of 0.4% per year within the same timeframe. Part of the growth in Europe stems from European Union policies that encourage organic viticulture.
The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission launched September 23 as an annual EU Organic Day to raise awareness of organic agriculture. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said: “Today we celebrate organic production, a sustainable type of agriculture where food production is done in harmony with nature, biodiversity and animal welfare. 23 September is also autumnal equinox, when day and night are equally long, a symbol of balance between agriculture and environment that ideally suits organic production.”
In the past 10 years, the wine market in New Zealand has grown 300 percent, says a new report from BioGro NZ. Representing 10 percent of the overall organic products market in New Zealand, the organic wine sector is the third-largest organic sector and is valued at $65 million.
China’s state-run English language news service reports that the country issued more than 22,000 organic certificates to 14,000 companies, and the number of certificates grew 13.5 percent on average each year from 2016 to 2020. China’s organic food market is expected to reach 98.9 billion yuan in 2023, and increased form 27.98 billion yuan to 67.82 billion yuan from 2013 to 2019. In 2020, China sold 999,000 tonnes of organic products valued at 80.43 billion yuan.
In an analysis of Ireland’s likelihood of reaching 25 percent of agricultural land as organic by 2030 (to align with the European Union’s goal), the author concludes it is unlikely, in part due to the mismatch between what organic products Irish shoppers buy most and what Irish organic farms produce. About two percent of Irish agricultural land is dedicated to organic production, primarily beef and sheep. Meanwhile, the top selling organic products are vegetables, yogurt and fruit.
In 2020, sales of organic food rose 15 percent to €2.37 billion, with over 80 percent of it sold through the traditional retail food sector. Nearly all Austrians purchase organic food, partly due to environmental issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. Even so, a risk of supply shortages, due to fewer farms converting to organic agriculture, may slow sales growth. About 23 percent of agricultural holdings in Austria are organic, managing about 27 percent of total agricultural area.
Starting January 1, 2022, control bodies need to issue organic certificates through the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) for organic products on the market in the European Union.
Draft regulations establishing an official certificate verifying the non-use of antibiotics in organic livestock are available for public comment until August 11, 2021. Such certificates would be useful for European farms interested in exporting livestock products to countries that do not allow use of antibiotics in organic production. If the regulations pass, the certificates would be available in January 2022.
A new GAIN report on the retail market in El Salvador says “Health and nutrition are no longer a main concern for only higher-income consumers. With the pandemic, more Salvadorans have become conscious of their health and are seeking products to boost it through good eating habits. Therefore, there is a stronger demand and potential for products that are made with more natural ingredients, organic, fat free/low fat, gluten free, unsweetened or reduced calories (including beverages).”