The 27th session of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling was
held in Ottawa April 27-30, and work continued on the draft Guidelines for the Production,
Processing, Labeling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods (Guidelines). At the
close of the 26th session, the draft Guidelines were advanced to Step 8, except
for the section on animal production and animal products which was returned to Step 6 for
further comment and consideration. Although progress was made during the 27th
session, the conferees did not reach a consensus, and the livestock provisions remain at
Step 6. A section of the draft Guidelines relating to lists of approved and prohibited
substances advanced to Step 8.
Organics in Hungary
Today in Hungary, 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) are under organic
cultivation, and an equal amount is in transition. Most of the acreage consists of arable
land, but gardens, orchards, greenhouses and grasslands are also certified as organic.
About 70% of the area is certified by the domestic certifier, Biokultura; the rest
is certified by western European certifiers.
Hungary is one five countries that have "third country" status
with the EU which facilitates entry of organic products into the EU market. (Other
countries include Argentina, Australia, Israel and Switzerland.) Hungary patterned its
organic regulations on EU regulations and is currently drafting additional legislation.
The Hungarian government subsidizes the conversion of farms to organic production methods
as follows: US$24 per acre for crop production; US$69 per acre for horticulture; and US$3
per acre for grassland.
More than 90% of organic products are exported, mainly to Germany,
Austria, Switzerland and Sweden. Major products include grains, oilseeds (sunflower and
pumpkin seeds), millet, paprika, frozen fruit, fruit preserves, wine, herbs and spices.
Imports of organic products are believed to be minimal. Some specialty
food stores exist in the bigger cities, but sales are slow due to high prices and lack of
The outlook is for expanded production. Hungary hopes to have 250,000
hectares (617,500 acres) in organic production by the year 2002.
Canada Announces National Organic Standard
On April 20, the Canadian Organic Advisory Board (COAB) announced that
Canada now has a national organic standard. Publication is expected shortly.
The standard outlines "principles for organic agriculture that
endorse ecologically sound production and management practices to enhance the quality and
sustainability of the environment and to ensure the ethical treatment of livestock."
The standard covers, but is not limited to, the period of conversion to organic
agriculture, production plans and records, crop and livestock production, production
requirements for maple products, honey, greenhouse crops, mushrooms, sprouted plants, and
wild and natural products, the production and processing of organic products, packaging,
labeling, storage, and distribution of organic food products, and the Permitted Substances
Certified products bearing the trademark "Canada
OrganicBiologique Canada" will be available by the end of 1999, according to
COAB. The industry is confident that the new national standard and the adoption of the
Canada organic trademark and logo will increase the acceptance of Canadian organic foods
in both domestic and export markets. COAB estimates that the nearly $1 billion Canadian
organic industry is growing at 20% annually.
Trends from Australia
In late May at a government-sponsored national workshop, Australian
produce growers learned about sustainable production systems and the importance of this
concept to their continued success in the international market. The keynote speaker was
from Sainsburys, a major UK supermarket chain with an extensive program that
provides consumers with "quality products from environmentally friendly
sources." He said, "Increasingly, unsustainable production methods are seen as
bearing environmental bad news, something customers just dont want.
Sainsburys buys significant quantities of Australian produce, and thus to maintain
that market, Australian farmers need to ensure that they have produce that is grown under
For more news on organics, see HTPs monthly newsletter
"Organic Perspectives," available at the HTP home page: www.fas.usda.gov/htp/organics/organics.html.
The newsletter contains reports on organics from around the world gleaned from attache
reports, trips made by HTPs organics staff, and other sources. The newsletter also
covers items of interest about the U.S. national organic program and the domestic organic
industry. A list of upcoming conferences, trade shows and other events is included in
For further information, contact Janise Zygmont (analysis) at
202-720-1176 or Kelly Strzelecki (marketing) at 202-690-1341.