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Don’t let regulation get in the way of consumers buying more organic food

19 April 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 19 April 2018

Speaking today on the vote in the European Parliament on the EU Organic Production Regulation, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren warned that the text agreed left some difficult questions unanswered while potentially hindering EU organic products reaching the consumer:


"Despite what some people have said, consumer confidence in organic foods and demand for them has increased significantly, with sales continuing to boom – growing 12% and reaching over 30 billion euros. Retailers already struggle to source sufficient supplies of quality organic produce to meet consumers' demand.  We are glad that there is finally agreement on a text, but worry that it only answers part of the question and imposes controls on retailers and wholesalers which will deter, rather than increase the offer of organic produce, while doing little to improve public confidence."

Retailers and wholesalers have responded to increasing consumer demand by offering a growing range of organic produce and developing specific organic product lines, encouraging and rewarding farmers and SMEs producing quality organic food. We have developed quality supply schemes to provide transparency to consumers and drive the organic market. Growth of the organic sector, was 12% in the last year recorded1, and EuroCommerce has called for regulation of organic products which lays down proper standards, but does not impose additional burdens which can throttle the supply and sale of organic produce. 

We are pleased to see that the agreed text allows for mixed farming, combining conventional and organics production, if sufficiently separated. While the key issue on thresholds for pesticide residues remains fragile, we support the approach agreed to first conduct further investigations before a product or crop loses its organic status, instead of automatically decertifying a crop which was unintentionally contaminated. 

We are fully in favour of measures to prevent fraud and ensure that customers are getting what they pay for and expect. The additional controls on retail and wholesale will not, however, achieve this: most retailers sell products that are already packed and labelled, and the risk of non-compliance with organic rules at that stage of the chain is negligible. These additional controls risk stopping some, particularly small, retailers from selling organic produce altogether. We therefore ask that authorities adopt a risk-based approach, and conduct inspections at the stage where there is most risk of fraud.

EuroCommerce is the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies. Its members include national commerce federations in 31 countries, Europe's 27 leading retail and wholesale companies, and federations representing specific sectors of commerce.

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