Global opportunities for organic expand as certifiers unite

29th April 2019

Organic certifier OF&G (Organic Farmers and Growers) has joined forces with global accreditor Control Union UK (CUUK) to open and expand markets for UK organic food production by offering certification on a global scale.

“It’s an exciting development for OF&G, allowing us to build organic business opportunities not only in the UK, but in the EU and across the world through CUUK’s extensive accreditation portfolio and international reach,” says Roger Kerr, CEO at OF&G, who certify over half the organic land in the UK.

Commenting on the new partnership, Franco Costantini, MD at CUUK, says uniting with OF&G aligns to their ambitions to expand the food assurance market in the UK and Ireland. “OF&G have over 20 years’ experience in organic certification and a long-standing presence in the UK. Alongside this, we offer an extended network of auditors, access to international markets and a diverse portfolio of accreditation programmes.”

Mr Kerr explains that with anticipated changes as a consequence of Brexit, the collaboration provides an opportunity to deliver organic certification and food safety assurance as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible for UK and EU businesses, in particular those seeking export markets.

“When OF&G operated standalone, if a business in another country wanted to certify to organic standards in the UK, we’d fly an inspector out. Now, because CUUK have ‘boots on the ground’ in numerous countries, the process becomes much simpler and certifications can be combined.

“Vice-versa, if our licensees want to become certified with international organic schemes, such as the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) or National Organic Program (NOP), then CUUK can help as they have the accreditations in place, alongside UK or EU regulation” says Mr Kerr.

Due to Brexit, the level of certification required to export food is increasing. “Not only do operators have to deal with EU regulation, they now need to consider UK regulation in a post-Brexit world.

“With more regulation to contend with, not to mention the additional time and expense it incurs at every step in the food supply network, we want to help consolidate this process by certifying to EU and UK regulations simultaneously. Together with CUUK, we can make this happen.”

The recent EU organic regulation (834/2007) put into law by Parliament ahead of Brexit provides some stability for the sector until December 2020. “However, we still don’t know what UK organic regulation will look like long-term and the uncertainty needs addressing.

“OF&G continue to lobby Defra and and the EU Commission (via IFOAM EU) to ensure more contingencies are put in place to ensure the wheels of the industry can keep moving,” concludes Mr Kerr.