Australia’s $2.6 billion organic industry is celebrating a milestone in establishing a mandatory standard for use of the word ‘organic’ following an Australian Government announcement today calling for public consultation on the matter.
Long-term supporter of improving and streamlining Australia’s organic regulatory framework, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, delivered the announcement, which will allow industry and consumers to share their voice on potential regulatory or non-regulatory options across the organics supply chain.
Currently, Australia is lagging behind global markets as one of the only developed nations in the world without a mandatory domestic standard, meaning products that are not certified may be labelled organic. Exporters of organic products are also severely disadvantaged due to the red tape of having to pay separate in-country fees and meet specific regulations of customer nations, in the absence of a trusted Australian framework.
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, praised the Australian Government for its action and said it followed significant lobbying efforts on behalf of the organic industry over the past three years.
“We are grateful to Minister Littleproud for his ongoing support and help to drive this agenda that will support better market access, consumer confidence and industry credibility,” Ms Ford said.
“As the peak industry body for the organic sector, we have worked tirelessly to support our members and provide a consistent voice to government on this crucial matter.
“We are so pleased this important consultative process has now formally begun.
“Over the next few weeks, and during the public consultation process, we will focus on supporting our industry members, producers, manufacturers, exporters and consumers to provide their views on this topic that is critical to customer confidence and the future growth of organics in Australia.”
Ms Ford said establishing a mandatory standard would bring Australia in line with other countries when competing for the rising global demand for organic goods.
“Establishing a mandatory standard for organic will help ensure our burgeoning industry is well positioned to capture growing demand both here domestically and in export markets around the world,” she said.
“For an industry that spans horticulture to livestock, apiary to cosmetics and from wine to desserts, it’s important that consumers can make a confident informed choice when they are making purchases.”
The Australian Organic Market Report 2021, released in June, highlighted this issue stating almost one third, or 31 per cent, of shoppers who purchased an organic product in the past year believed they had previously been misled by organic claims on product packaging.
AOL’s Chair, Martin Meek, said these results gave further urgency to the need for a mandatory domestic standard for use of the term ‘organic’ in Australia.
“Without a domestic regulatory framework wrongdoers can make misleading claims about their products, and currently there are no legal repercussions for this,” Mr Meek said.
“While a unified, legal organic definition may still be some time away, this is a great step in the right direction, and we will be encouraging all our industry members and consumers to be part of the conversation to help shape the organic industry’s very promising future.”
AOL will host a webinar for its members at 1pm (AEST) on Wednesday 8 December to allow industry participants to ask questions about the process and help them be fully prepared to provide their feedback when consultation opens. Learn more here.
View the release from Minister David Littleproud here.
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