Japan Proposes Organic Standards
In response to consumer demand for mandatory organic production standards, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) recently announced proposed standards and third-party certification requirements to be implemented April 2000. A one-year grace period is being proposed, which would delay enforcement until April 2001.
Currently, Japan has voluntary labeling guidelines for six categories of non-conventional agricultural products: organic, transition organic, no pesticide, reduced pesticide, no chemical fertilizer, and reduced chemical fertilizer. The labels have caused confusion in the market and a loss of consumer confidence. Nevertheless, total sales of foods from these six categories are forecast to rise 15 percent in 1999 to almost $3 billion. In 1998, fresh fruits and vegetables accounted for the largest share of this market ($1.9 billion), followed by rice ($377 million), and processed foods ($36 million).
Imports of organic products are still comparatively small, valued at $90 million in 1998, or less than 4 percent of total sales. With consumers increasingly demanding certified organic products, however, imports could play a more significant role in the future, creating new opportunities for U.S. exporters.
Source: Attache report JA9123. The report includes an unofficial translation of the proposed Japanese Agricultural Standards for Organic Agricultural Products.
The Danish Organic Food Market
Denmark has one of the highest per capita levels of consumption of organic foods in the world. The value of retail sales of organic food and beverages is estimated at $300-380 million annually or about 3 percent of the total retail market, although in certain product categories like milk and carrots, the organic market share is much higher. At 5.5 million, Denmarks population is small, but both the Government and the people have a strong commitment to the environment and organic foods, which is reflected in organic sales that have been rising at 30 percent annually.
Retailers have played a significant role in growing the organic market. Two major chains dominate the retail market, and account for approximately 75 percent of organic sales. The organic food service sector is less developed and more fragmented than the retailing sector, but it too is growing along with the institutional catering sector. While staple foods such as milk, cheese, bread and vegetables constitute most of the sales, more processed products are finding their way onto supermarket shelves.
The concept of "food miles" is important to some Danish consumers. "Food miles" refers to concerns about the environment and non-renewable resources used to transport food from a distance that could otherwise be sourced locally. Thus, Danish consumers tend to prefer domestically produced food, or if it is unavailable, food from other EU countries. However, as organic food products gain wider appeal among mainstream consumers, concerns about the geographical source of food may lessen.
The United States is considered a favorable source of supply, and conventional food exports to Denmark are strong in the following categories: pulses, grains, nuts, fresh fruit, processed fruits and vegetables, wine and pet food. Thus, U.S. organic exporters might find acceptance for organic versions of these products, in addition to the following:
out of season fruits and vegetables
fresh and processed beef and lamb
rice, dried beans and pulses
ingredients for the bakery sector - nuts, seeds, dried fruits
ingredients for the food manufacturing sectors - frozen fruit for yogurt and jams
fruit juice and health drinks.
Source: "The Danish Organic Food Market," a comprehensive study prepared for FAS by PROMAR International.
Codex Organic Guidelines on Internet
International guidelines for the production, processing, labeling and marketing of organically produced food were approved by the joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission several months ago. The complete text of the guidelines is available now at the FAO Standards Collection web site: http://www.fao.org/es/esn/codex/STANDARD/standard.htm
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 every issue.
(For further information, contact Janise Zygmont (analysis) at 202-720-1176 or Kelly Strzelecki (marketing) at 202-690-1341.)