Regulations – Standards – Certification | GON

Heinz W. Kuhlmann

Representative of NürnbergMesse in Japan

In order to ensure the quality and safety of products and services various regulations and standards have been established in most countries. Many standards and respective laws focus on health and food safety. Other regulations with similar content and purpose are based on religious precepts. While this is useful and often necessary, it can also be quite confusing for consumers and producers of natural and organic products. This article gives an overview of major standards and control systems related to food and beverages. Some of them also apply to non-food products, such as body care, cosmetics, textiles and other necessities for daily life.

ISO

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s biggest international standard-setting body forming a bridge between the public and the industrial sector. The name of the non-governmental organization is based on the Greek word “isos” which means “equal”. The standards of the ISO are developed by technical committees, experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors which asked for the standardization. Then, the standards are published and put into use. All International Standards are reviewed at the least three years after publication and every five years after the first review by all the ISO member bodies. Thus, international standards can be confirmed, revised or withdrawn.

ISO’s structure

The ISO was founded in 1946 and officially started working a year later. Nowadays, ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 161 countries with one member per country. The German representative of the ISO is called DIN, Deutsches Institut für Normung. By agreement with the German Federal Government, DIN is the acknowledged national standards body that represents German interests in European and international standardization organizations. Ninety percent of the standards work now carried out by DIN is international in nature.

So far, ISO has developed over 17500 international standards on a variety of subjects and about 1100 new ISO standards are published every year. The fields for standardization range from electrical engineering, aircraft and space vehicle engineering, petroleum and related technologies to wood technology and metallurgy.

So far, ISO has developed over 17500 international standards on a variety of subjects and about 1100 new ISO standards are published every year. The fields for standardization range from electrical engineering, aircraft and space vehicle engineering, petroleum and related technologies to wood technology and metallurgy.

Furthermore, there are ISO standards concerning foodstuff. There are standards that concern animal feeding stuffs, such as the determination of water-soluble chlorides content (ISO 6495:1999) and the determination of moisture and other volatile matter content (ISO 6496:1999). Also, processes in the food industry were standardized with guidelines such as ISO 8086:2004 which concerns the hygiene conditions in dairy plants focusing on “General guidance on inspection and sampling procedures”. The most popular standard with reference to foodstuff is ISO 22000: 2005 which specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organization in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that food is safe at the time of human consumption.

So far, ISO has developed over 17500 international standards on a variety of subjects and about 1100 new ISO standards are published every year. The fields for standardization range from electrical engineering, aircraft and space vehicle engineering, petroleum and related technologies to wood technology and metallurgy.

Furthermore, there are ISO standards concerning foodstuff. There are standards that concern animal feeding stuffs, such as the determination of water-soluble chlorides content (ISO 6495:1999) and the determination of moisture and other volatile matter content (ISO 6496:1999). Also, processes in the food industry were standardized with guidelines such as ISO 8086:2004 which concerns the hygiene conditions in dairy plants focusing on “General guidance on inspection and sampling procedures”. The most popular standard with reference to foodstuff is ISO 22000: 2005 which specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organization in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that food is safe at the time of human consumption.

These regulations and standards are meant for the industry as a whole. However, they are not relevant for certifying organic or natural production or products. Yet, they are good for any company in the food sector to ensure the quality and safety of its products.

Traceability

Under EU law, “traceability” is defined as “the ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution.” The ISO also published a definition on traceability in its standard 22005:2007. The Traceability in the feed and food chain — General principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation standard, establishes the principles and requirements for the design and implementation of a feed and food traceability system. This standard will allow organizations operating at any step of the food chain to do the following. Firstly, trace the flow of materials (feed, food, their ingredients and packaging). Secondly, identify necessary documentation and tracking for each stage of production. Thirdly, ensure adequate coordination between the different actors involved. And lastly, require that each party be informed of at least his direct suppliers and clients, and more. However, these definitions are broad and, thus, there is an ample scope for interpretation.

Foods and their information can be traced forward and back at each stage of the food chain, i.e. production, preparation, processing, distribution and sales. Downstream tracing refers to tracing from the producer to the consumer, while upstream tracing tracks the process from the consumer to the producer. Furthermore, one distinguishes between internal and chain traceability. Internal traceability is related to the ability to trace product information internally within a company. It uses data relating to your own production or process. Chain traceability on the other hand, is the ability to trace product information through links in a supply chain, in other words the relevant information a company gets and gives away about a specific product. Chain traceability deals with the data you receive and the data you send.

The European Union’s General Food Law came into force in 2002, making traceability compulsory for food and feed operators and requiring those businesses to implement traceability systems. The EU introduced its Trade Control and Expert System, or TRACES, in April 2004. This provides a central database for tracking the movement of animals both within the EU and from third countries. In the event of a disease outbreak, TRACES ensures that all potentially affected animals can be quickly identified and that authorities can take appropriate measures.

Companies have different motivations to integrate traceability systems within their companies. Firms’ motivations for traceability back to the farms of origin include the idea of protecting or regaining the general reputation of a product, a firm, an industry, or a country. Also, differentiating products by suppliers who provide traceability and guaranteeing product origin when origin is an attribute of interest to consumers or others might be a motive. For a firm itself, improving supply management and being able to monitor and assure production or processing methods can be a motivation. Also, improving the effectiveness of product recalls after the discovery of a food safety or product quality problem is often an incentive.

All in all, one can say that traceability within the food chain assures the safety and quality of products. Also, it enables companies to enter certain markets such as selling organic products, halal or kosher food.

Halal

The word ‘halal’ literally means permissible- and in translation it is usually used as lawful. Lawful in this context refers to the Islamic law.

All foods are considered halal except the following, which are unlawful:

1. Pig/pork and its by-products
2. Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
3. Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (God)
4. Alcohol and intoxicants
5. Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
6. Blood and blood by-products

7. Foods contaminated with any of the above products

For Muslims the consumption of halal food is obligatory to serve Allah.

Over the years, the demand for Halal certified products has increased dramatically. In order to meet this demand, companies throughout the world are seeking authentic Halal certification to gain consumer confidence, expand their existing market and enhance sales strategies. A well-known institution is the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). This is a non-profit Islamic organization dedicated to promote halal food and the institution of halal. IFANCA certifies halal food production in over 20 countries around the globe. Also the British HMC Halal symbol certifies many products.

The global Halal market amounts to approximately 1.6 billion Halal consumers. By 2010 this number might increase to a total of 3 billion people. Thus, the halal market is very profitable. Some Islamic countries, such as Malaysia, have recognized this great potential and became major producers of Halal food and beverages.

Kosher

Kashrut refers to the Jewish Dietary Law. The word is based ob the Hebrew term kashér which means “fit”. Jews who keep kashrut may not consume non-kosher food. There are certain rules to follow the Jewish Dietary Law:

■ Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
■ Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
■ All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
■ Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
■ Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs
■ Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
■ Utensils that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.

■ Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.

To make sure that one does also shop kosher food, different certifications for Jewish food, called hechsher, have been established. A hechsher is the special certification marking found on the packages of products (usually foods) that have been certified as kosher.

One of the best known hechsher symbols is the “OU” of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (the “Orthodox Union”). Their certification mark is a federally and internationally registered trademark. Outside of the United States, they are less well known. They employ hundreds of rabbis as mashgichim and are generally accepted.

There are many other respected hechsher logos; for example the Star-K Kosher Certification.

For foodstuff that is kosher, certifications are necessary. Otherwise one can not be sure about the food’s origin.

Definitions of “Certification”

■ BusinessDictionary.com: “Formal procedure by which an accredited or authorized person or agency assesses and verifies (and attests in writing by issuing a certificate) the attributes, characteristics, quality, qualification, or status of individuals or organizations, goods or services, procedures or processes, or events or situations, in accordance with established requirements or standards.”

■ Organic certification programs have been in existence since the late 1970s. Early program organizers had seen how the term natural had lost its meaning in the marketplace and wished to avoid a similar fate for the term organic. Successful programs establish standards, and certification, verification and control procedures. Standards are based on the principles of agroecology, although a number of factors, such as the state of the regional farm economy, and different schools of thought in organic production, can lead to regional differences. Most standards, however, are based on guidelines prepared by two international agencies, the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). This ensures a basic consistency in the standards from one location to another.

■ The procedure by which third party gives written assurance that a product, process, or service conforms to specific requirements.

When a consumer buys his food and other products directly from an organic farm or producer whom he knows and trust or at local farm markets, then there is little need for certification. However, consumers in big cities and foreign markets do not have a such a direct relationship and still want to know whether they can trust the quality of products.

Therefore, regulations and standards are established by associations and other organizations and some (not all) of them become laws.

Since the general term “natural” is not defined and regulated by law in any country it is often abused and misunderstood by consumers. Therefore, right from the beginning, strict criteria and requirements for certification were established for organic food and beverages.

However, this does not apply (yet) for to the same extent for organic non-food products, such as body care, cosmetics, textiles etc. There are certain guidelines and quasi-standards prepared by various associations and groups, but no respective laws.

Standards and Regulations

In the middle of the last century farmer associations (first in Europe, followed by other countries) developed the first regional and national standards for organic production. The first international standards were introduced by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) in 1980. During the following decades many countries in Europe, America and Asia introduced standards and respective legislation. These guidelines and regulations are supposed to define and ensure basic standards for organic products and convey confidence and trust to consumers. While such goals are certainly positive, it is difficult to achieve them on an international level. In spite of the continuous efforts by many governments, international organizations, IFOAM and private associations, until now no world-wide accepted standards and regulations have been established.

Certification and accreditation have made good progress. Currently there are about 500 organic certifiers in over 70 countries. Many of them are also operating outside their home country, especially in developing countries. Most certifiers are approved by IFOAM and/or accredited by the respective governmental bodies.

Nevertheless, there are still many differences and discrep-ancies with major implications for domestic markets and international trade. A large volume of organic raw material an d processed products comes from developing countries in Latin America and Asia and to a lesser (but growing) extent from Africa. Most of these countries have only a small domestic market for organic products, because of low income and high prices. Therefore, the export of organic products with added value is very important for them. However, for export the products must be certified according to international standards (national standards are usually not sufficient) and furthermore they must meet the regulations of the destination countries (Europe, North America, Japan and some other Asian countries). These regulations have many criteria in common, but they are not uniform and always subject to changes and revisions.

US and EU Import Procedures

The National Organic Program (NOP) came into effect in October 2002, and together with the EU regulations it has much influence on organic production standards worldwide. From the consumer viewpoint the production and inspection standards of organic products from the US, EU and many other parts of the world seem to be very similar and more or less equivalent with each other. However, in practical terms and when it comes to exporting/importing organic products, there are many differences in detail. Many small producers in developing countries are also not aware that for importing procedure the authorities do not clearly distinguish between conventional and organic products. The important point is whether the products meet the respective regulations for organic products and can be offered and sold on the market with added value as “certified organic”.

In December 2006, the EU published new regulations on the import of organic products, and the new procedures came into force in January 2007. Subsequent additions and changes will be adopted in the new general EU regulations on organic agriculture, products and imports which will go into effect in 2009.

All organic products exported to the EU must have been certified by an inspection body which is recognized by the European Commission. The EU will publish lists of approved inspection bodies and authorities as well as approved third countries. There will be three different lists:

1) List of inspection bodies which have been accredited by the EU authorities.
2) List of inspection bodies which apply production standards and inspection systems equivalent to the EU regulations.

3) List of countries whose production systems comply with rules equivalent to the EU production and inspection provisions. Apparently, this list is corresponding to the existing Third Country List, however, there are also some important differences.

According to the new EU regulation No. 834/2007 there will be two distinct kinds of organic certification for imports into the European Union. One certification is the “Equivalent Certification” and the other certification is the “Compliance Certification”.

“Equivalence” means, that there is no 100% identity of organic production and certification in the Third Country required. It means, that a “comparable effectiveness” is sufficient.

The EU regulation No. 834/2007 lowers the requirements for the “Equivalent Certification” by a reference to the Guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius is a system, where almost all countries in the world agree on a common understanding of requirements for food. It is a permanent conference on transnational food law. The Codex Alimentarius Guidelines for Organic Production, Certification and Labeling are in some areas less clear, less precise and less demanding than the requirements of the EU laws.

“Compliance Certification” means, that the certified production is 100% in accordance with the requirements of the laws of the European Community with respect to organic food production. In other words: The certification is performed 100% in the same way as organic certification is handled in the EU countries.

The new regulation now foresees, that products from China and other Third Countries, which are imported into the European Union no longer need an accompanying inspection certificate. There is considerable less paper work required for organic products from China with a “Compliance Certification”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Compliance versus Equivalent Certification? Equivalent Certification means, that the production and the certification has to meet lower requirements. However, Equivalent Certification carries less prestige. It is not recognized as a 100% organic certification. What does “Compliance Certification” mean? It means, that the organic production in a Third Country fully meets the EU-requirements. It carries more respect and value than “Equivalent Certification”, because it is considered a truly 100% organic certification.

How is “Compliance Certification” achieved? It can only be carried out by certification bodies which are recognized by the EU Commission (s. list 3). Not only organic certifiers from the European Union, but also organic certifiers, who operate in the Third Country may be listed. However, practically, all of the global players, which have their base in Europe and the United States will seek to be listed and most likely they will offer a world-wide service of “Compliance Certification”. “Compliance Certification” will be attractive to buyers in Europe, because “Compliance Certification” means 100% identity of organic production and organic certification in the Country of origin.

“Equivalent Certification” will be performed by equivalence certifiers listed separately from the list of compliance certifiers and also by certifiers mentioned in the list of Third Countries. The intention of these two different lists is to provide an access to the EU-Organic Food Market for Third Country products, which do not meet 100% of the organic food law requirements in the European Union.

It remains to be seen whether the new EU regulations will really be of benefit to producers in developing countries. There is also the risk that the division of the access to the EU organic food market in two distinct certification levels could create a severe discrimination for Third Country organic farmers with only “Equivalence Certification”. Most likely buyers in the European Union will pay lower prices for products from Third Countries with only “Equivalence Certification”, and als a result those farmers, who can only achieve “Equivalence Certification” are discriminated against. Therefore, the new duality may result in a discrimination against “Equivalence Certification”. The problem is that organic “Compliance Certification” will be perceived as the true, the 100% organic certification, and some buyers will think, that organic “Equivalence Certification” is in inferior.

International Support Organizations

In many African and Asian countries the organic movement is growing, but they still lack of in knowledge and financial resources with regard to certification systems. Some countries have already established a national organic standard. This first step has its merits and promotes the awareness for organic farming and products, but unfortunately is not sufficient for generating income from export.

Since Africa and Asia can and will become major suppliers of organic raw materials and products, the major buyers/markets in Western countries (and in future also Japan) with very strict criteria and regulations should give some special consideration to the current situation in those countries and support them by practical regulations and measures, such as:

●Acceptance of national standards for organic food products as being in “conversion”.
●Assistance for organic farmers/producers with international certification and marketing.
●Financial support / – Group Certification / – Training local certifiers

●Feasible standards and criteria for non-food products

In addition to IFOAM, a major promoter and supporter of the organic agriculture movements and patron of BioFach, there are many international organizations which offer advice and support to organic farmers and producers in developing countries.

ITC International Trade Center

The International Trade Center, ITC, functions as a development partner for small business export success in developing countries. ITC provides the information, training and tools to help small business in developing countries to help themselves to export success.

ITC also supports organic products and agriculture. In the last years, ITC was able to convert more than 3,000 fruit and coffee farmers to convert in Kenya and Uganda to convert to organic production and to acquire group certification. Its focus lies on the support and promotion of export from natural resource-based sectors, which includes organic food and fiber products, non-wood forest products, sustainable wood products and carbon trade.

Since the international market for organic foods is booming, ITC’s work helps to create jobs, empower women and improve the environment.

ITC released a web portal called “Organic Link”, which includes a database with over 2129 Importers and Exporters and provides a unique source of information on the organic sector.

UNCTAD

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, aims, together with other worldwide Organizations, to strengthen the capacities of countries, particularly developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to effectively address trade-environment-development issues. Among other things, UNCTAD supports the “African Organic Conference 2009”, which deals with organic agriculture in Africa. UNCTAD spreads the idea of organic agriculture in Africa and other developing countries through meetings, conferences, policy brief and public, governmental and intergovernmental notifications. UNCTAD considers organic agriculture to be a decisive factor for the success of developing countries, like for example Africa.

GTZ

GTZ, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH, is an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations. GTZ works worldwide in Asia and Pacific, Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Latin America and Caribbean, Maghreb and Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. GTZ aim is to promotes complex reforms and change processes. Its corporate objective is to improve people’s living conditions on a sustainable basis. GTZ works for the German Federal government and other clients, public or private sector, national or international, such as the EU, World Bank or UN organizations, and for private sector companies. Its main client is the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

SIPPO

Sippo, the Swiss Import Promotion Programme, is one of OSEC’s mandates financed by the Swiss Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs (SECO). It aim is to supports small and medium-size enterprises from developing and transition countries in gaining access with their products to Switzerland and to the European Union. Based on the Global Compact’s ten Principles, Sippo stands for environmental compatibility. It also supports producers from partner countries in participating at selected international trade fairs in Europe. They concentrate on organic food, the environment and also take sustainable tourism in consideration.

Fair Trade and Transfair

Transfair, a German non-profit association founded in 1992, has the aim to equalize underprivileged producing countries like Africa, Asia and Latin America and to improve their living and working situations through “fair trade”.

“Fair Trade” (also written as FairTrade) is the official international logo of Transfair. This logo displays products which are produced under fair terms and conditions. Transfair functions as a supervisor in this process. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.

Today, sustainable methods of productions are fundamental for fair trade standards. Transfair deals with pesticides and insecticides and pleads for ecological and organic agriculture.

Fairtrade works international and includes 24 organizations around the world, with its headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Fairtrade sets international Fairtrade standards and supports Fairtrade producers.

LOHAS buyers are willing and usually can afford to pay more for quality, and also for products from developing countries which are offered by FairTrade organizations. The international fair trade criteria cover basic ecological aspects for all products. Organic cultivation is specifically encouraged, even though not required, by an additional price mark-up. This gives producers an incentive for conversion, and the share of organic products in the TransFair range is growing continuously.

FairTrade labelling (usually simply Fairtrade or Fair Trade Certified in the US) is a certification system designed to allow consumers to identify goods which meet agreed standards. Overseen by a standard-setting body (FLO-CERT), the system involves independent auditing of producers and traders to ensure the agreed standards are mets.

For a product to carry either the International Fairtrade Certification Mark or the Fair Trade Certified Mark, it must come from FLO-CERT inspected and certified producer organizations.

FLO is the worldwide FairTrade standard setting and certification organization. It offers opportunities for more than one million producers, workers and their families in over 50 developing countries to benefit from labeled FairTrade.

Fair Trade Certified Mark

Note: Customary spelling of Fairtrade is one word when referring to the FLO product labelling system

The Fair Trade Certified Mark is a certification mark used in Canada and the United States. It appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal. The Fair Trade Certified Mark is the North American equivalent of the International Fairtrade Certification Mark used in ovr 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

fairtrade

Having a FairTrade label does not automatically mean that the products can be sold as “organic”. In order to use the term “organic” and respective labels, the projects and products must go through organic inspection procedure.

FairTrade and BioFach have much in common, and there is a close cooperation. Some of these products, for example coffee, tea, chocolate, organic cotton and product from wild collection are also exhibited at BioFach.

FairTrade and organic agriculture have the same roots and similar goals, and there is a close cooperation with BioFach. The Theme of the Year for BioFach 2010 in Germany is “Organic + Fair”. The Theme of the Year for BioFach 2010 in Germany is “Organic + Fair”.

References and websites

ISO
http://www.iso.org/iso/home.htm

Official homepage of the International Organization for Standardization and gives all kinds of information on the organization.

http://www.din.de/cmd?level=tpl-home&contextid=din

Official homepage of the Deutsches Institut fuer Normungen, which is the German representative of the ISO.

TRACEABILITY
http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/foodlaw/traceability/index_en.htm

offers data on traceability standards within the European Union

http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April04/Features/FoodTraceability.htm
An article from an ongoing research of the ERS’s Traceability Team. Offers information on safe and efficient food supply.

EurepGAP: www.eurep.org

HALAL
http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/define.html

Homepage of the British Halal Food Authority. One can find lots of information such as a definition of halal, information on the origins of halal, etc.

http://www.ifanca.org/

Homepage of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. One can find consumer information, as well as industrial information.

http://www.halal.com/main.php?do=home&action=home
http://www.star-k.org/

Star-K is a certifier of halal food.

KOSHER
http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm

This website offers detailed information on “Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws”

http://www.oukosher.org/

This is the Homepage of the Orthodox Union.

ITC International Trade Center
http://www.intracen.org/dbms/organics/index.asp

http://www.intracen.org/Corporate/En/Annual-report-2008/mdg-7.pdf

UNCTAD

http://www.unctad.org/

GTZ

http://www.gtz.de/en/index.htm

SIPPO

http://www.sippo.ch/internet/osec/en/home/import.html

FairTrade
http://www.fairtrade.net/

http://www.transfair.org/

Conclusions and Outlook

In order to ensure the quality and safety of products and services various regulations and standards have been established in most countries.

Many standards and respective laws focus on health and food safety. Other regulations with similar content and purpose are based on religious precepts.

While this is useful and often necessary, it can also be quite confusing for consumers and producers of natural and organic products.

This article gives an overview of major standards, labels and control systems related to food and beverages. Some of them also apply to non-food products, such as body care, cosmetics, textiles and other necessities for daily life.

When a consumer buys his food and other products directly from an organic farm or producer whom he knows and trust or at local farm markets, then there is little need for certification. However, consumers in big cities and foreign markets do not have  such a direct relationship and still want to know whether they can trust the quality of products.

Therefore, regulations and standards are established by associations and other organizations and some (but not all) of them have become laws. Since the general term “natural” is not defined and regulated by law in any country it is often abused and misunderstood by consumers. Therefore, right from the beginning, strict criteria and requirements for certification were established for organic food and beverages.

However, this does not apply (yet) for to the same extent for organic non-food products, such as body care, cosmetics, textiles etc. There are certain guidelines and quasi-standards prepared by various associations and groups, but no respective laws.

In Japan (and other Asian countries) most consumers think about organic products − even if they can clearly distinguish between natural and organic − mainly in terms of consumables. However, there are many other non-food natural and organic products, such as cosmetics and body care products, remedies and supplements as well as natural textiles, such as organic cotton.

The demand for such products is continuously growing and offers good business opportunities.

In addition to organic raw materials, food and beverages the above mentioned non-food products also offer a good business opportunities for developing countries which rely more on exports than on rather small domestic markets. However, it is very important and at the same time quite difficult for them to understand and meet the requirements and regulations for exporting to major markets, such as EU, USA and Japan.

Even though international certification standards are similar there are still many differences in the import regulations and other obstacles. A typical example for such differences (and obstacles) are the revised EU regulations on organic agriculture, products and imports which went into effect in January 2009.

While the organic movement is firmly established and regulated in most industrialized western and some other countries, developing countries in Africa and Asia are progressing but still have a long way to go. Many countries in Latin America recognized at an early stage the opportunities and business potential as suppliers of organic raw material and later also of processed food and beverages. Therefore, they made great efforts and quick progress with the introduction of certification according to international standards.

In many African and Asian countries the organic movement is growing, but they still  lack in knowledge and financial resources with regard to certification systems. Some countries have already established a national organic standard. This first step has its merits and promotes the awareness for organic farming and products, but unfortunately is not sufficient for generating income from exports.

Since Africa and Asia can and eventually will become major suppliers of organic raw materials and products, the major buyers/markets in Western countries (and in future also Japan) with very strict criteria and regulations should give some special consideration to Fair Trade in the wider sense and the current situation in those countries and support them.

Fairtrade and organic agriculture have the same roots and similar goals.

The Theme of the Year for BioFach 2010 in Germany is “Organic + Fair”.