Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products.
Purpose of Organic Certification
Organic certification addresses a growing worldwide demand for organic food. It is intended to assure quality and prevent fraud, and to promote commerce. While such certification was not necessary in the early days of the organic movement, when small farmers would sell their produce directly at farmers’ markets, as organics have grown in popularity, more and more consumers are purchasing organic food through traditional channels, such as supermarkets. As such, consumers must rely on third-party regulatory certification.
For organic producers, certification identifies suppliers of products approved for use in certified operations. For consumers, “certified organic” serves as a product assurance, similar to “low fat”, “100% whole wheat”, or “no artificial preservatives”.
Certification is essentially aimed at regulating and facilitating the sale of organic products to consumers. Individual certification bodies have their own service marks, which can act as branding to consumers—a certifier may promote the high consumer recognition value of its logo as a marketing advantage to producers.
Requirements during Organic Certification
Requirements vary from country to country (List of countries with organic agriculture regulation), and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
- · avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives), irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
- · avoidance of genetically modified seed;
- · use of farmland that has been free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years (often, three or more);
- · for livestock, adhering to specific requirements for feed, housing, and breeding;
- · keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
- · maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
- · undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
Organic Certification For Whom
In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants.
A lesser known counterpart is certification for organic textiles (or Organic clothing) that includes certification of textile products made from organically grown fibres.
Benefits of Organic Certification Certification
Becoming certified organic helps producers and handlers:
- Receive premium prices for their products
- Access fast-growing local, regional, and international markets
- Support local economies
- Access additional funding and technical assistance
- Market products to consumers