Updates from U.S. Organic Worldwide

Potential bilateral equivalency arrangement with Mexico

The United States and Mexico are currently in formal negotiations for a potential bilateral organic equivalency arrangement.

Organic equivalency arrangements allow for products certified in one country to be sold as organic without additional certification in the partner country, and vice versa. The United States has existing bilateral organic equivalency arrangements with Canada (2009), the European Union (2012), Japan (2014), South Korea (2014), and Switzerland (2015). The Organic Trade Association (OTA), in partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Mexico, the U.S. International Trade Commission, and OTA member Driscoll’s, led trainings, hosted meetings, participated in the 7th Consejo Nacional de Producción Orgánica meeting, and gave a public presentation at Expo Orgánico in Mexico in June.

All sectors of the Mexican organic industry are energized by the prospect of an equivalency arrangement with the United States. At the same time, the National Organic Program, SACARPA, and SENASICA are all working together to ensure the comparatively young industry in Mexico develops necessary framework and implementation plans to maintain the integrity of both organic systems in advance of  equivalency.

For example, a Joint Organic Compliance Committee was created. This committee has two objectives: strengthening monitoring and controls, and collaborating on enforcement and compliance. Some of the committee’s activities will include mandatory import certificates, equivalency arrangement workshops, and monitoring trends in non-compliance.

OTA learned first-hand that our partners in Mexico are eager to work with and learn from the organic industry in the United States to further strengthen our organic trade relationship. Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. organic exports after Canada. No country imports more organic products from Mexico than the United States.

U.S. Organic Worldwide Fall 2016 Activities

Companies invested in participating in any of the following activities or seeking more details are encouraged to contact Monique Marez.

International Media Tour: OTA will host media from France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, and award-winning chefs from China for an East Coast Organic Tour September 18-24. The tour will highlight the integrity, diversity, quality and innovation of the U.S. organic industry. Journalists will attend the All Things Organic Conference at Natural Products Expo East, and be available for one-on-one interviews with companies exhibiting there.

Switzerland Importer Seminar: Despite the United States having signed an equivalency arrangement with Switzerland nearly a year ago, trade with this partner is relatively low. Switzerland has the highest spend on organic per capita in the world, and customers there demand organic in every aisle of the store, yet American products are rarely on those shelves. OTA will lead a seminar in Bern in October to introduce key importers and retailers to the intricacies of the arrangement, and showcase the U.S. organic industry as an untapped well for organic products.

OTA at SIAL Paris: OTA will once again host an all-organic pavilion at SIAL Paris, the largest food trade show in the world. The following companies are participating in the OTA Pavilion: Acme Organics, Coleman Organics, Findlay Organics, Luke’s Organics, Organic Food Manufacturing, To Your Health Sprouted Flour and Grain, and UNFI.

Promotions in South Korea, E-Mart and Gift Basket Project: OTA is partnering with major retailer E-Mart on a consumer exposure and information campaign. E-Mart will run digital media on USDA certified organic products both in stores and online in Q3 and Q4 2016. If you have product in E-Mart, please contact Monique to see how your products can be featured. OTA will also execute an experiential marketing campaign with Sohn Market Makers, a boutique PR firm in Seoul. Do you want your product in the home of Seoul’s foodie and beauty influencers? We are preparing 100 gift baskets to do exactly that, and we need your help. Baskets will be delivered in November.

Retail Promotion and Organic Lifestyle Expo Japan: OTA will host retail promotions throughout Tokyo and Osaka November 13-18 timed with the first-ever Organic Lifestyle Expo in Tokyo. To participate in the retail promotion or to walk the Expo, contact mmarez@ota.com.

Notes from the Field: an organic Dutch lunch

The Organic Trade Association’s Associate Director for International Trade Monique Marez recently participated in the IFOAM Organic Leadership Course in Holland. The cohort included organic leaders from Armenia, Austria, Croatia, Brussels, Belgium, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.

The Dutch organic industry has been growing steadily and quickly. There is a significant amount of production happening in Holland, and many organic imports filter through Holland to the rest of Europe. Trips included a stop at the Louis Bulk Institute where participants listened to a discussion of the ethics of organic seed breeding in comparison to GMOs, and a visit to Bio Brass, the largest Brassica producer in the country servicing most of the European Union with direct relationships with key retailers including TESCO and Carrefour.

Bio Brass serves as both farm and processing plant, with an additional aim to reinvigorate the humble beet as part of a mainstream diet in Europe. One of the photos above is from the Bio Brass operation.

Another interesting stop included Remeker, an organic Jersey cow dairy and cheese operation. Cows at Remeker keep their horns, and use a sophisticated rotating milk parlor that minimizes their stress  during the milking process.

Your feedback is crucial!

OTA’s U.S. Organic Worldwide Strategic Programs are undergoing a third-party strategic review. The goals of this review are to evaluate existing programs and services, and understand how to improve our export promotion offerings to better serve your needs. If you have participated in OTA export promotion programs in the past few years, you likely will be contacted. If you would like to provide more in-depth feedback, contact Monique to introduce yourself to the review team. Your input is highly valued and greatly appreciated.  //

Top photo: Representatives from Driscoll's, OTA, SAGARPA, SENASICA, and USITC are shown together at Expo Organico in Mexico City.