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Australian Organic Limited (AOL) is calling for mandatory organic certification marks to be used on all certified organic products, after new research revealed a large number of shoppers believed they had previously been misled by organic labelling.

AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, said stamping easy-to-recognise emblems on organic packaging would drive consumer confidence and build trust among the growing organic customer base.

“Organic consumers are seeking ‘trust marks’ before purchasing products, in fact, our research highlights 59 per cent of buyers are looking for certification logos when reading a product’s labelling,” Ms Ford said.

“Ensuring all organic products are certified and labelled with a mandatory logo will remove any confusion and help clearly signpost the organic products in the marketplace. Customers will be able to see these logos and instantly have peace of mind their purchase is an authentic, and certified, organic product.

“The organic industry is already contributing more than $2 billion to the Australian economy, and with widespread predictions of growth for the domestic and international markets, now is the time to position our industry as having a sophisticated and cohesive front.”

Research from the Australian Organic Market Report 2021 found nearly one-third (31 per cent) of shoppers who purchased an organic product in the past year believed they had previously been misled.

Ms Ford said The Bud logo, and the words Australian Certified Organic provides the trust consumers are looking for and research indicates the emblem is recognised by more than 60 per cent of Australian consumers.

“For devoted organic shoppers the recognition is even higher, with 73 per cent of them recognising The Bud as a symbol of certified goods,” Ms Ford said.

The Bud logo has long paid dividends for Queensland horticulture producer, the McMahon Bros Orchards, whose organic fruit has been labelled with the symbol for more than 20 years.

Paul McMahon, a fourth-generation producer to his family’s 323ha enterprise at Stanthorpe, 250km southwest of Brisbane, said The Bud gave a guarantee of trust to his customers and distributors.

McMahon Bros Orchards in Stanthorpe, Queensland, proudly display the Bud on their produce boxes

“The Bud is the most-recognised certified organic symbol in the country, and I think it is the best way for our industry to communicate with our consumers that our products are accredited to the highest standard,” Mr McMahon said.

“Having The Bud on our produce means we have adhered to clear-cut guidelines from ACO Certification Limited and undergone regular audits to ensure our produce is up to standard. We are happy to meet these demands as we want to grow and deliver the best quality product possible to our customers.”

The issue of uniting behind labelling has never been more timely, with Australia on the cusp of establishing a mandatory standard for use of the word ‘organic’ in marketing.

Ms Ford, who is part of the Organics Industry Advisory Group established in December 2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, said a mandatory standard would unlock new markets.

“I believe common sense will prevail and a mandatory standard for use of the word ‘organic’ will be established as, although our industry is thriving, this is a step that is well overdue,” Ms Ford said.

“Australia is one of the only developed nations without a mandatory national standard. Our prosperous industry is competing on a world stage, so it’s imperative we have one symbol, The Bud, to resonate with consumers.”

Learn more about The Bud Guarantee here.