Expanded Canada-EU organic equivalency agreement to benefit sector

Woman grocery shopping The global organic market is valued at more than $80 billion in consumer sales per year. Photo: Thinkstock

By Laura Rance
OrganicBiz staff

Canadian organic exporters may soon benefit from the European Union’s decision to expand the scope of its equivalency agreement with Canada to include organic food products that contain organic ingredients.

The revised agreement announced March 7 means Canadian certified organic processed products that include imported ingredients will no longer require costly and time-consuming double certification, a federal release says.

This is long-awaited and exciting news for our sector. – Dag Falck, president of the Canada Organic Trade Association.

The expanded scope of the arrangement will also include mutual recognition of EU and Canadian organic wine standards as being equivalent.

“This is long-awaited and exciting news for our sector. Strengthening Canada’s export opportunities with EU countries just took a strong step forward with recognition of Canadian Organic Regime (COR) certified organic products with ingredients from all approved suppliers, ” said Dag Falck, president of the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA).

Marie Ève Levert manager of international and regulatory affairs for the COTA, testified before the Canadian Senate Feb. 25 that organic trade with EU has suffered due to incongruent policies.

“Other products could come into the country either 100 per cent from Europe, or products that were processed with ingredients from across the globe but that were certified to the EU organic standards,” she said. “But for us, …we could only export products that were 100 per cent Canadian, with 100 per cent Canadian ingredients.”

“This is great news for our hard-working Canadian organic processors and producers who will now benefit from increased opportunities to export their products to Europe,” Agriculture and Agri Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay said.

COTA statistics show that the global organic market is now valued at more than $80 billion in consumer sales per year. Canada is the fifth largest market in the world, valued at over $4 billion a year and its organic exports average more than $558 million per year.

She said Canada has been a world leader in negotiating trade agreements for organic products. It now has agreements with the U.S., the EU, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Japan.

The amended equivalency regulation is expected to come into force by late March.

Canada and the EU have treated each other’s certification systems for organic food, feed and seed as equivalent since 2011.

Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland said increased organic exports to Europe could be one of the beneficiaries as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe takes effect.

For more information on the Canada-European Union Organic Equivalency Arrangement go to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.