Food sector urges Government to secure mutual organic standards agreement in Brexit negotiations

The FDF and the Organic Trade Board are among those representing the organic food and drink sector, which has written to chief UK negotiator, Lord Frost, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, to express their concern about the future of trade and certification of organic products between the UK and the EU.

Global sales of organic products are rapidly approaching £100bn and the UK is the world’s 9th largest organic market. Organic food and drink sales also boomed during the lockdown earlier this year, with the sector on track to hit the £2.6bn mark by the end of the year.

The letter highlights that organic food exports from the UK face being excluded from the EU market if mutual agreement between the UK and EU is not achieved by the end of the year, with highly damaging effects on the organic market.

The letter maintains that unless organic standards ‘equivalence’ is secured as part of the negotiations, the UK will lose access to EU markets automatically at 11pm on 31 December 2020, which would bring significant practical and financial problems for a dynamic, fast-growing part of the British food industry.

It could also see manufacturers in Northern Ireland lose access to some essential sources of organic ingredients or products produced in Great Britain in favour of products from EU member states which will be able to be imported without additional administration, or certification requirements.

Roger Kerr, Chairman, The UK Organic Certifiers Group (UKOCG), said the sector would face overnight exclusion from a ‘vital market’ if a mutual recognition agreement between the UK and EU is not achieved before the December 31st deadline.

“By co-signing this letter as a sector, we are urging the UK Government to recognise what is at jeopardy here as we enter a new regime with the EU. Securing mutual agreement between the UK and the EU in relation to organic certification must be a priority for the negotiators,” said Mr Kerr.

Omsco’s Managing Director, Richard Hampton, also commented: “Access to the European market is vital not just because of the growth opportunities that it affords, but also because our spread of markets and products allows us to deliver the flexibility and availability to our UK customers and consumers. The loss of these markets will damage efficiencies, reduce flexibility and increase costs at a precarious economic time.”

 

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