Organic body calls for new EU logo to take centre stage

Date Published: 07/05/2009

A leading organic body has moved to reassure licensees that it will not demand the use of its logo on packaging as new EU rules come into force.

Organic Farmers & Growers' chief executive, Richard Jacobs
Organic Farmers & Growers' chief executive, Richard Jacobs

Under a revised European Organic Regulation, a new organic logo will be legally required on food labels from 2010.

Recognising the burden of this change on its licensees, Organic Farmers & Growers has stressed that it will not be requiring the use of its own logo on packaging, though other certifiers may insist on this.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, explained: “We have had concerned licensees on the phone after they discovered that Soil Association Certification Ltd had changed its standard to require the use of its logo, as well as the EU logo, on most packaging once the new rule comes into force.

“We want to reassure people that we will not be doing the same. When it is finalised the EU logo will be standard across Europe and will indicate clearly to shoppers that they are buying organic. There is a high cost to changing designs and space on labels is already often squeezed by the varying demands of what has to be shown there. It will be burdensome enough to processors to have to add the EU image.”

Mr Jacobs lamented that not all organic organisations were getting firmly behind the new regime: “While we too had initial concerns about a generic logo, it’s now law and if the whole organic sector does not get wholeheartedly behind it we risk denigrating the whole EU standard. We all need to be promoting the EU symbol and educating consumers about that and the benefits of organic.

“I fear that by demanding the use of its own logo, the Soil Association could be seen to be implicitly criticising the integrity of the EU organic standards. We are not clear whether it’s subsidiary company Asisco will also be requiring the mandatory use of its logo.”

Organic Farmers & Growers is concerned that shoppers will be confused by mixed messages if other certifiers promote their own symbols. Having organic certification provides assurance that produce has been rigorously and independently verified as organic and the EU logo will be there to demonstrate that.

Though a design has yet to be decided, the EU currently plans to introduce the new logo from July 1, 2010, although manufacturers will be able to use up existing stock of labels until 2012, as long as they comply fully with the current requirements.