The new EU organic regulation – Organic Production and Labelling of Organic Products – will come into force in all European member states on 1 January 2022 (“the new organic regulation”).
This new organic regulation contains additional rules for the labelling of organic products and raw materials that go beyond the general labelling requirements for all foods.
Why a new regulation?
Since the enactment of the current EU Organic Farming Regulation (834/2007/EC) in 2009, the EU has been required to adapt to a rapidly evolving sector in response to the realities of the sector.
The new EU regulation supersedes the current EU regulations (EC) No. 834/2007 and (EC) No. 889/2008 and henceforth sets out the essential rules for the organic products’ production, processing, trade and labeling in the European Union (“EU”).
The new regulation’s (EU 2018/848) primary objective, according to the European Commission, is to “ensure fair competition for farmers, while preventing fraud and maintaining consumer confidence.”
The proposal for the new organic regulation dates back to 2014, it was adopted in 2018 and should come into force in January 2021.
📢 Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the European Commission announced a one-year postponement of the application of the new Regulation EU 2018/848, which was originally scheduled to apply within the EU by 1 January 2021, i.e. 1 January 2022, and outside the EU by 31 December 2024 at the latest.
Within the EU: The current EU regulations will be repealed on January 1, 2022 in favor of the new European Organic Regulation. This is the basic law, supplemented by secondary laws that describe and concretize the implementation of the regulation, some of which have already been published by the European Commission.
Outside the EU: Operators outside the EU will have an extended transition period from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2024 in order to adapt their activities to the new regulation. Companies will be required, as of January 1, 2025, to obtain EU 2018/848 compliant emissions certificates in order to export their organic products to the EU.
The rules regarding mandatory and optional use of the organic logo and its designation are not new.
Advertising a product as organic was and still is prohibited if the product does not comply with European rules. However, as soon as the new EU organic regulations come into force, the labeling rules will be clarified.
To avoid violations of the regulations – which in some cases may even mean decertification of the organic product – it is important that anyone involved in organic production, organic production methods or organic products – including the sale of products with the organic label – is familiar with these regulations.
The export of an organic product to the EU is controlled according to EU rules. In the absence of an agreement ensuring equivalence of the organic specification of the third country with the EU organic regulation, the EU regulation will apply.
The rules apply equally to all producers – the same rules for EU and non-EU producers.
Certification of new organic products includes salt, essential oils not intended for human consumption, natural gums and resins, cotton, wool and raw hides, beeswax and silkworm cocoons.
● CHANGES IN PRODUCTION AND CONVERSION REGULATIONS
For crop production: details of the origin of the seed and the plants used have been provided. In addition, farms must grow legumes because of their importance for soil fertility. However, soil-less crops, such as hydroponics, are still prohibited.
For livestock production: The main changes relate to the conditions for rearing poultry and pigs, with greater consideration given to animal welfare in the design of buildings and outdoor areas. There are also restrictions on the feeding and purchase of non-organic laying hens.
Food processing: The most important change concerns the production and use of flavourings. Only natural flavourings whose origin is 95 % clear (e.g. “natural vanilla flavouring”) will be permitted. (More about flavourings in the next section)
The importance for tea manufacturers and retailers
The new regulations directly impact tea importers, producers, wholesalers and retailers. It is important for existing and prospective tea retailers and resellers to be aware of the new rules and regulations on the following points:
Flavoring is a big issue for us and our customers. As tea blenders, we use flavorings to create some of our specialty blends.
As far as the use of flavourings is concerned, new organic foods and beverages may only contain “natural X-flavourings” as defined in Regulation EU-1334/2008, i.e. flavourings derived from natural flavouring substances or preparations, 95 % of which must come from the X-source mentioned above.
These substances and preparations include essential oils and extracts.
In addition, the flavouring substances used must be organically grown or suitable for organic farming. This means:
➢ The amount of organic flavourings shall count towards the minimum 95 % of the finished product and they shall consist of at least 95 % organic ingredients.
➢ The amount of appropriate biological flavourings shall count towards the maximum non-biological content of 5 % of the finished product.
It is important to note that the previous EU 834/2007 regulation was much more permissive and allowed almost any flavouring in organic food and drink, with less impact on labelling.
The implications for F&B manufacturers producing organic products with flavourings are enormous and lead to various complications in the use and development of organic products.
This new regulation is aimed at transparency and consumer protection. While it appears simple on paper, its implementation in practice presents many difficulties.
For well-established products, a change in aroma can noticeably alter the product profile – taste, smell and appearance – and have a significant impact on sales. Regardless of the product, it is extremely difficult to reproduce these profiles with new, limited biological flavour profiles.
The economic impact on product prices is also considerable, as replacing existing flavourings involves significant additional costs.
The origin of the products
➢ The origin of products will be handled more flexibly: products labelled “EU agriculture” may contain 5 percent non-EU ingredients instead of 2 percent as before.
The “labelling requirements” of the new organic regulation apply to any statement, indication, trademark, trade name, picture or sign relating to a product and affixed to any packaging, document, sign, label, ring or banner accompanying or referring to the product.
Regulations are therefore not restricted to product labeling, but also to ingredients and processes. If the products, their ingredients or the raw materials used to manufacture these products have been described in the label, advertisement or corporate materials using terms suggesting to the buyer that the products, ingredients or raw materials have been produced in compliance with the new organic regulation, these must also be compliant with the new organic regulation.
Particularly, terminology such as “organic,” “eco,” or “bio,” their derivatives, or diminutive forms such as “bio” and “eco” are only allowed if the product is in fact organic. Given the broad definition of labeling, the same applies to company and trade names.
Examples of terms that may be used in the ingredient list include:
[water, sugar (organic), apple, raisins (organic)] or used in the sales description if at least 95% of the processed ingredients are organic and meet the requirements of Annex II, Part IV (these are the rules for processed food production in the new organic regulation).
The organic logo must not be used here either (see section on the organic seal below).
Attention should also be paid to the design of some product packaging, which is very similar to the colours (green and white) and shapes (leaf) of the organic logo, as this can be misleading for consumers.
The organic logo
The use of the organic logo is independent of the use of the term “organic”. If the organic logo can be used, the product can also be called ‘organic’, but there are also products that can be called ‘organic’ but do not bear the organic logo.
It is mandatory to use the organic logo for pre-packaged products from the European Union. European Union organic logo is allowed to be used in the labeling, presentation and advertising of products complying with the provisions of this Regulation.
However, there are exceptions, for example for certain processed hunting and fishery products.
The use of the EU organic logo is optional for products imported from third countries. However, the organic logo must in any case comply with the model and the requirements of Annex V of the new Regulation on organic production.
The organic logo is often referred to as a quality mark, but strictly speaking it is an official declaration within the meaning of Articles 86 and 91 of Regulation (EU) 2017/625, referred to in the Regulation as a “certificate”.
Organic Logo Requirements
The new Organic Farming Regulation not only stipulates the use of the organic seal and logo, it also imposes a number of mandatory specifications that must be included on the label. The most important of these are:
The code number of the inspection authority or body to which the operator who carried out the last production or preparation is subject:
if the organic logo is used for organic farming in the EU, the place where the agricultural raw materials that make up the product were grown must be indicated in the same visual field as the organic logo in one of the following forms:
➢ (a) ‘EU agriculture’ if the agricultural raw materials were grown in the Union;
➢ (b) ‘non-EU agriculture’ if the agricultural raw materials were grown in third countries;
➢ (c) ‘EU/non-EU agriculture’ if part of the agricultural raw materials were grown in the Union and another part in a third country.
In addition, the indications ‘EU’ or ‘non-EU’ shall not be displayed in a colour, size or font more visible than the name of the product.
The indications must be displayed in a conspicuous place. It is expected that there will be practical implementation rules on the use, presentation and size of the indications.
Monitoring and enforcement
The new organic regulation has direct effect in the legal order of the European member states; there is also no transposition into national laws or regulations.
However, the monitoring of compliance and the sanctioning of infringements is regulated at national level. Operators should contact their national organic inspection bodies directly to obtain the necessary and appropriate certifications for their operation.
We have produced this guide to help our existing and future customers understand the impact of the new organic regulations on their future business operations.
We have taken all necessary steps to ensure that we comply with all new regulations. Therefore, our customers can be sure that they are buying products with EU organic certification. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean that by buying products from us you are also oaganically /BIO certified. There is a difference between the two.
Being certified means that your business has received certification from the relevant authority in your country. And yes, this also applies to entrepreneurs who want to sell organic products online, via e-commerce or on marketplaces like Amazon.
For more information, please visit the following link to access the official documentation of the European Union
Organic is our philosophy
What does Gräfenhof Tee do to ensure that our tea packaging is sustainable and complies with European directives?
We only purchase from tested and certified vendors. We test our products before we install them in our facilities to ensure they not only meet standards, but also provide a good experience.
Do you have any questions, requests or suggestions? We would be pleased to hear from you!