Canada and United Kingdom sign organic equivalency arrangement

Canada and United Kingdom sign organic equivalency arrangement
Jan 13, 2021

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Organic products certified under Canadian or British regulatory systems can be sold as organic in the other’s country

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Canada and the United Kingdom will recognize some of each other’s organic products as equals.

The United Kingdom-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (UKCOEA) came into effect on Jan. 1.

The arrangement “means that organic products certified under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Canada Organic Regime or UK organic system may be sold and labelled as organic in both Canada and the UK,” Tia Loftsgard, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA), told Farms.com.

If a product is certified by a CFIA-accredited organization or by a UK-approved body, the process eliminates ag products from requiring separate certification to the Canadian standards and vice versa.

Canada has similar arrangements with other seven other jurisdictions: United States, Taiwan, Switzerland, Japan, the European Union, Ireland and Costa Rica.

The partnership with the U.S. is unique.

Not only does it allow organic products from both countries to flow across the border, it also allows certified products from a third country into the U.S. and Canada and deemed as equivalent.

Having these kinds of arrangements help facilitate trade, Loftsgard said.

“They reduce the burden and expense of certifiers from other jurisdictions having to come to our region to verify that we meet their standards,” she said.

Loftsgard outlined two goals she has for COTA and organic exports overall.

Currently, available export data is unreliable. Finding a new and concrete method to track organic exports is important, she said.

“There’s no good tracking mechanism for exports, but anecdotally we know it’s growing,” she said. “I’m on a data group with Stats Canada and Agriculture (and Agri-Food) Canada to figure out what’s going on. Having correct data will help move the needle with our Canadian government about how important the organic sector is on the world scale.”

COTA is currently collecting data on a marketing report on 2020 sales statistics.

The general consensus is organic producers have fared well even during the pandemic, Loftsgard said.

Another priority is market access.

Representatives from different countries have contacted COTA about product availability, Loftsgard said.

“We have buyers from places like Korea and the Netherlands participating in our matchmaking program,” she said. “We get people looking for organic oats or adzuki beans or any other number of products.”

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