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Cut price organic offer to small bakers

Date Published: 18/08/2010

One of the UK’s leading organic bodies has launched a bid to make certification more affordable for small bakeries.

Organic Farmers & Growers has taken steps to address the issue after concerns were raised in British Baker (16 July 2010, p14) about prohibitive costs and complex paperwork associated with organics.

OF&G has announced a new, two-year subsidised package for bakeries with an organic turnover of up to £50,000. The new deal would see new entrants pay no more than £400 per year for the first two years of their certification, with fees rising only modestly after that.

The certifier, which has been government approved to carry out organic inspection and licensing longer than any other organisation in the UK, also stressed that record-keeping and paperwork should never be a reason not to pursue official organic status.

Chief Executive of OF&G, Richard Jacobs, said: “For almost 20 years now we have pursued a thoroughly practical approach to organic certification. No-one applies the regulation more stringently than we do, but we go to great lengths to ensure our certification staff speak the same language as our licensees and make the whole certification process as painless as possible.

“There is no reason why people should be put under pressure by the paperwork. All it takes is a bit of organisation, which we smooth along by creating pro-forma documents and other tools to make it as simple as we can. There is no excuse for adding complexity to the process for the sake of it and we were distressed to hear that businesses which should be contributing to the growth of organics were being put off taking that step.”

Mr Jacobs emphasised that OF&G did not hide any costs in its charges and no extra was added to the certification fee for everyday management, such as having new recipes added to the certificate or existing ones changed. A Direct Debit scheme offered by OF&G also assists in spreading the certification costs through the year.

“With the actual costs of inspection, we will be making a loss with this offer, but cereal production, milling and baking is very high on our agenda. At the start of July we held the biggest organic event in the UK aimed at arable producers, seed and feed merchants and millers, with pretty well all of the key industry players present. The work we’re doing to promote UK organic arable gets a further shot in the arm if we can ensure healthy bakeries,” Mr Jacobs added.

Anyone interested in finding out more about organic certification with Organic Farmers & Growers can contact the control body’s Shrewsbury headquarters on 01939 291800 or email OF&G also has a free organic processing guide which can be downloaded here.