The European Union adopted its updated Organics Regulation in 2018. The Regulation is set to enter into force on January 1st, 2021. The Agricultural Committee in the European Parliament and other stakeholders within the organic sector have called for the new Regulation to be delayed, citing a need for more time to prepare for the changes that the new Regulation will bring. The European Commission and Member States already held several discussions on a possible delay of the regulation’s entry into force but no decision has been made yet.
The North-South Food Link virtual trade event, to be held October 1, is designed to establish connections and increase agricultural trade from the United States to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.
Participating US exporters will connect one-on-one with potential buyers through virtual business-to-business meetings set up in advance by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and learn about trade and economic conditions through targeted market briefings and data analysis. Sign up by September 1, 2020.
Beginning January 1, 2021, India will require certain imported food products to be accompanied with a certificate indicating that the food’s origins are not genetically modified. The 24 products covered by the new mandate include alfalfa, apples, Argentina canola, beans, chicory, cowpea, eggplant, flax seed, corn, melon, papaya, pineapple, plum, potato, rice, safflower, soybeans, squash, sugar beets, sugar cane, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and wheat. According to USDA, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India further clarified verbally that the order does not apply to either processed food products prepared with any of the specific commodities or animal feed.
Aug. 21, 2020
Taiwan is the fifth largest export market for U.S. organic products, reaching over $90 million in sales in 2019. Thanks to the May 2020 equivalence arrangement between U.S. and Taiwan, U.S. organic sales in Taiwan are forecast to grow by almost 50 percent between 2020 to 2025.
Based on surveys that showed shoppers shied away from foods with additives labeled as ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic,’ Japan will ban the use of those terms on food labels. Additives such as sweeteners, colors, preservatives, flavors, and fragrances will no longer be described as artificial or synthetic. Food manufacturers have until March 31, 2022 to comply with the change.
The National Organic program launched a project in April to implement electronic import certificates, and has a new webpage to provide information about the program. Although using the electronic certificates is optional for now, customs brokers who start voluntarily submitting data will help NOP and U.S. Customs and Border Protection ensure the new certificate does not slow trade for valid organic products. Electronic organic import certificates are required by the 2018 Farm Bill and are closely connected with the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule currently underway.
In draft guidance documents for fruits, vegetable, teas, medicinal plants, dairy products and meat, China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration seeks to standardize organic sampling and testing procedures there. The guidance would also further regulate organic certification and provide direction to certification bodies in testing for contaminants, including pesticides and drugs prohibited in organic agriculture, based on risk assessment. Testing would be required as part of the certification process. Grapes would face the largest number of mandatory tests—70 in all. Public comment on the drafts closed July 31.
Organic farmers in Ghana now have the option of taking part in a Participatory Guarantee System for organic certification. Other certification services in the country are aimed at the export market and cost more, but the PGS will help reassure local customers who are seeking organic products.
Effective July 16, 2020, the organic equivalence arrangement between the United States and Canada now includes organic livestock products and processed food products that containing livestock ingredients. US livestock products must be certified organic under the US National Organic Program, and either raised in the US, produced in the US, or a product for which final processing or packaging has occurred in the United States.
Taiwan’s policy of requiring organic equivalency agreements may change the origins of its imported organic products, as most European Union countries are not pursuing agreements. As of May 31, 2020 only five of 22 countries engaged in organic trade with Taiwan have signed equivalency agreements: Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. Meanwhile, of the organic products imported into Taiwan in 2019, 52.9 percent came from the EU, 18.8 percent from the United States, 10.3 percent from Canada, 8.9 percent from Australia, and 7.2 percent from New Zealand. Over 86 percent of Taiwanese consumers prefer organic fruits and vegetables.
India requires organic products exported to the United States to have a Certificate of Inspection issued by a government-accredited certification agent through India’s TraceNet system. The NOP considers these Certificate of Inspection an essential record to demonstrate good control processes, and operations must maintain these certificates as part of their records for inspection.
Artistic Milliners is working with WWF-Pakistan to support organic cotton production by placing orders for the organic cotton at a premium rate even before it is produced to encourage farmers and ginners to go organic.
Published June 10, 2020, France’s new ‘Act on the transparency of information on agricultural and food products’ will require additional country of origin information for certain agricultural. Beginning January 1, 2021, Law 2020-699 requires a country of origin indication on the labels of cocoa, raw or processed and for royal jelly. Labels for honey composed of a mixture of honeys from more than one EU member state, or from a third country, must list all of the countries of origin in descending order by weight. In addition, the law requires restaurants to indicate country of origin for dishes containing beef, and prohibits use of names used to designate food of animal origin to describe, market or promote food containing vegetable protein.
The requirements, which are more specific than EU labeling laws, may erode the single EU market, making intra-EU trade more challenging.
According to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service report on the Indian Organic Foods Market, “there has been a significant drop in U.S. agricultural exports to India since 2018 due to the retaliatory import tariffs imposed by India, which has also hampered trade prospects in the organic sector.” Organic food and beverage retail sales in India reached $69 million in 2019 and are estimated to increase 12 percent to $77 million in 2020. Best prospects for US organic products there include apples, vinegar, pears, and coffee.
In 2019, the European Union imported 3.24 million tons of organic products, about the same as 2018. China is the leading importing country, at 433,000 tons, with organic soy meal for animal feed as the leading product at 77 percent of all Chinese imports. Ukraine supplies one tenth of EU’s organic imports at 338,000 tonnes, especially of wheat and other cereals. Due to banana imports and other tropical products, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru are the third, fourth and fifth leading importers.
Effective May 30, a new equivalence arrangement between the United States and Taiwan will facilitate trade of organic products between the two countries. Covering crops, wild crops, livestock, and processed products, the arrangement is limited to organic products that have been either raised within the United States or on Taiwan, or products for which final processing or packaging occurs within the United States or on Taiwan. This includes products processed or packaged in the U.S. or on Taiwan that contain organic ingredients from third countries that have been certified to the USDA or Taiwan organic standards. For retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the U.S. or Taiwan certifying agent and may use the USDA Organic seal. Exported organic products must meet the labeling requirements in the destination country. Use of Taiwan’s organic mark is restricted for use only by Taiwan businesses and may not be applied to USDA organic products.
The following products may not be exported from Taiwan to the United States as certified organic:
- Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics.
- Aquatic animals (e.g. fish, shellfish)
US agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics or systemic use of pain killers or analgesics, including the use of Lidocaine or Procaine may not sold, labeled, or represented as organic in Taiwan.
In a move to protect the environment, the European Union’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, components of the European Green Deal, propose increasing its organic farming to 25 percent of agriculture by 2030. Currently, 8 percent of agriculture in the EU is organic. In addition, EU has proposed cutting pesticide use by 50 percent and fertilizers by 20 percent in the next ten years. The proposals have yet to be approved by the member nations.
By issuing new organic legislation and a new unified logo for certified organic products, the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries seeks to raise the quality of organic products and boost consumer confidence and markets, especially for local fruits and vegetables. The new regulations cover production and processing of food crops and commercial organic agricultural products.
Demand for organic and local food has also increased dramatically and businesses have seen an accelerated uptake of digital solutions among consumers during the during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in France. These two trends resulted in the CEO of French food producer Organic Alliance predicting far-reaching consequences for the food system after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Organic food now represents 10.3 percent of the total food market in Switzerland, according to Bio Suisse. Shoppers in Switzerland spent 3.07 billion euros on organic food in 2019. Most sales are from two large food chains: Coop and Migros, with sales at specialty organic retailers representing about 10 percent of the Swiss organic market. Best sellers in the organic category include eggs, fresh bread, vegetables and fruit.