Organic certifier OF&G has joined forces with global accreditor Control Union UK (CUUK) in efforts to ‘open and expand’ markets for UK organic food production by offering certification on a global scale.
Roger Kerr, CEO of OF&G – which certifies over half of the UK’s organic land – calls this an ‘exciting development’, providing an opportunity to build organic business opportunities both in the UK and throughout the world through CUUK’s ‘extensive accreditation portfolio and international reach’.
Franco Costantini, MD of CUUK, comments that the new partnership with OF&G is in alignment with CUUK’s 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.”
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
Kerr explains that given the anticipated changes brought about by Brexit, the collaboration enables the two parties to deliver organic certification and food safety assurances to UK and EU businesses ‘as efficiently and cost effectively’ as possible, particularly to those exploring 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,” explains Kerr.
We want to help consolidate this process by certifying to EU and UK regulations simultaneously
“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.”
Until December 2020, some stability for the sector will come from the recent EU organic regulation (834/2007) put into law by Parliament, but Kerr stresses that provisions for beyond that date are essential. “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 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 Kerr.