European consumers are increasingly interested in organic products. This is particularly true for agricultural and food products but also for textile and other manufactured products. Products can be sold as “organic” only after they have been certified by a certification body.
The European demand for organic products is growing and importers are more and more asking producers to supply them with organically certified products. The yearly increase of sales of organic food in Sweden was more than 10 percent between 2013 and 2017 (but slowed down in 2018 and 2019). On the EU level, the organic market grew during 2020, but at the same time a slight decrease could be seen with regards to imports of organic agri-food products.
What is an organic product?
Organic food is produced according to farming methods that respect the environment and conserve biodiversity. In organic farming, the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is banned, antibiotics are severely restricted, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not allowed and crop rotation is necessary. Organic is not only about replacing chemical inputs with organic inputs, but about changing farming system.
In the EU, the EU organic logo can be used to show that the product lives up to the requirements for organic food in the EU. However, stricter standards exist and it varies from country to country which standard is the most used one. You need to find out what the situation is in the country you wish to export to.
EU organic logo for food products
The EU organic logo sees to that food products meet the EU organic standard, based on how they are produced, processed, transported and stored.
EU organic logo
Organic textiles are based on materials grown on organic farms, and manufactured without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or toxic chemicals. The use of the term “organic” in relation to textiles is not harmonised in the same way as it is for food products in Europe. There are therefore several different ways to show that your textile product is organic.
Products can only be sold as “organic” after they have been certified by an independent certification body.
Should I seek organic certification?
Before seeking organic certification of your products you need to do some research and carry out a cost-benefit analysis to see whether organic certification will really pay off. Switching from conventional farming to organic farming can be a long process and while you may be able to sell your products at a higher price, your production costs may also be higher. This can be a complex task and you may want to seek help from an organic certification body for guidance.
About the EU food organic certification: Becoming an organic farmer at the European Commission website
About agricultural organic standards: IFOAM - Organics International
When seeking organic certification for your products, keep in mind that different markets demand different certifications. You need to look for certification bodies active in your home country. If you already have a business partner in Europe or Sweden, they may require collaboration with a specific certification body. Otherwise, you need to look for certification bodies that are recognised as certification bodies in your target markets, for example those having capacity to certify products against the European Organic Standard.
The specific Swedish organic food standard, KRAV
There are two organic certifications that are widely used on the Swedish food market: the EU organic logo and the Swedish KRAV. KRAV is the best known certification among Swedish consumers.
The focus of KRAV is sustainable food production and its rules are stricter than those of the EU organic certification. KRAV requirements are also more extensive and cover more areas of the food industry such as certified fishing, certified food stores and certified restaurants.
Areas in which KRAV is stricter than EU organic:
- Health – The additive nitrite is forbidden
- Social responsibility – Workers should have the right to join unions; no child labour, no forced labour
- Pollution – Farms are not allowed to be situated close to roads with heavy traffic
- Climate – 80 percent of the energy for greenhouse cultivation should be from renewable sources
- Biodiversity – Biological pesticides like piperonylbutoxide are forbidden
New European rules from 1 January 2022
As of 1 January 2022, new rules related to organic production and certification of organic products will apply in Europe. This will affect both European farmers and farmers in other countries who want to sell their organic products in Europe.
Get further support
Feel free to contact us at Open Trade Gate Sweden if you need more information about rules and regulations that apply to your type of organic product. Please include detailed information about your product so that we can customise the answer.