1 Mar 2020

'Organic' labelling laws: Government aims for clear legal definition

1:28 pm on 1 March 2020

A new bill setting national standards for organic products aims to provide guarantees for buyers and producers.

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Photo: 123rf

The Organic Products Bill being introduced to parliament this week will set national production rules that make it clear when items can be marketed as organic.

Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor said consumers had raised concerns about questionable and confusing organic product claims.

More consistency was needed to improve consumer confidence and potentially boost New Zealand's exports of organic products, he said.

"Inconsistency leads to a lack of confidence and what we've seen internationally where an organic standard is laid out, we have further growth in the industry and growth among consumers," O'Connor said.

"We hope we'll give confidence to people looking at organic production in the future, security to those people who are currently producing organic products, and of course confidence to our exporting partners that they have quality and consistent product from our country."

Standards for organic food, beverages, and plant and animal products will be developed first.

Recent research showed demand for organic products was increasing, O'Connor said.

New Zealand's organics sector grew 30 percent between 2015 and 2018 and was now worth more than $600m a year, according to a report from Organics Aotearoa New Zealand.

The report showed organic fresh fruit and vegetable exports had increased 24 percent; organic dairy, meat and wool exports were up 45 percent; and organic wine exports had gone up 13 percent in the past three years.

Organic Farm NZ chairperson Jim Bennett and Organic Exporters Association chairperson Alice Moore said they were pleased to see the Bill introduced.

"This legislation will establish a foundation for greater investment in organic food production in New Zealand, and enable greater trade of organic products with our export partners," Moore said.

The public will get a chance to have a say on the Bill after it is introduced to parliament.

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