Friday, July 17, 2009

Green Light for Organics Part II

Questionable Standards Until Now for Canada

Despite that proper accreditation for organic products has existed in Europe and the U.S. for several years; until recently Canadian organic products could receive such a title even based on the manufacturer using organic hand soap. There has only been voluntary certification here until June 30 of this year; when the labeling standards for Canadian organic products became enforceable by law.

According to Michael Saumur of the Canada Organic Office at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, those companies claiming to be organic on their labels that don't act on a warning to comply with the laws are subject to their products being removed from stores or face prosecution. These laws include a requirement for a product to contain at least 70% organic ingredients to be called “organic”. There will also be a specific logo for products that are over 95% organic. Those products that are between 70% and 95% organic can state their percentage on the packaging.

Though the laws may be inconvenient to implement at first, Denise Shaskin of Planet Organic Market believes they will ultimately benefit the organic industry. Now the competition in the industry can be more fair too, and the new certification is recognized by the U.S., eliminating the need for separate certification in order to export goods. According to a study in the Canada Gazette, the new certification standards could have a net benefit of $752 million for the economy.

In Shaskin's experience, people's main reason to shop for organic goods is due to an illness in their family. So since they often scrutinize the contents of a product for health concerns, she believes the certification standards will boost many consumers' confidence in the contents of the packages they buy.

Shaskin, recognizing the increasing demand for organic products in the marketplace, entered this market in 1993 and started the Planet Organic chain in 2001. She claims that annual sales jumped to $113 million last year from only $2 million for her retail chain that operates throughout Canada now and intends to expand further into Ontario and Alberta.

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