Australian Organic Awareness Month (AOAM) is upon us, and the key theme will be the issue of products falsely claiming to be ‘organic’ on packaging.
Australian Organic Limited is urging consumers to always look for the familiar, official Bud certification logo which ensures a product has gone through stringent testing.
Currently, the word ‘organic’ is not defined in Australia. For the last 18 months AOL has been working with Government and industry to progress the discussion for clarification and mandatory regulation aligned to Australian export requirements.
“At the moment being certified organic within Australia is a voluntary process, however any producer or manufacturer can claim a product is organic on its packaging with as little as one ingredient being from organic origins,” explains CEO of AOL, Niki Ford.
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“Enforcing domestic regulation around this word will give producers, manufacturers and consumers much greater clarity that a product has been rigorously audited against a high-quality standard.”
Global supplier of certified organic meat, Paul da Silva of Toowoomba-based Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co., says lack of mandatory domestic regulation has organic export businesses playing at a disadvantage.
“Each export market requires proof an Australia organic product meets their own country’s organic standard. This is a fundamental requirement of market access.
“However, lack of regulations means we often can’t have equivalence with standards in other markets.
“This forces us and other exporters to go through the full process of getting certification in each separate export market. As we export to nine different countries this can cost thousands of dollars and countless hours per country.”
Mr da Silva emphasises that the demand for organic is still very strong, “… even during the uncertainties of 2020. This is a big export opportunity for Australia being hampered by red tape”.
The Australian organic industry is currently worth $2.6 billion and growing year on year. Strong growth has been driven largely by consumer appetite for natural, pesticide-free and synthetic chemical-free wholesome food and a growing awareness of environmentally sustainable practices.