EuroCommerce Director Criticises EU Organic Regulations
The new EU Organic Production Regulation could hinder EU organic products from reaching the consumer, a European retail and wholesale spokesperson has said.
EuroCommerce director-general Christian Verschueren warned that the EU’s new regulations around organic food left open some difficult questions and impose controls on retailers and wholesalers, which will deter organic offerings.
Instead, EuroCommerce asked that EU authorities adopt a risk-based approach and conduct inspections at the stage where there is most risk of fraud, as opposed to applying strict controls across the board.
The European Parliament voted this week to standardise organic production and labelling of organic products for Member States.
“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,” Verschueren said.
The trade group said that it welcomed the move towards a unified European approach, in light of the increasing consumer demand for organic foods.
“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,” Verschueren said. “Retailers already struggle to source sufficient supplies of quality organic produce to meet consumers’ demand.”
“We are fully in favour of measures to prevent fraud and ensure that customers are getting what they pay for and expect,” the group added.
“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.”
The group continued that 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".
It added that it was pleased to see that the EU 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,” EuroCommerce said.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.