Keeping up with new EU organic regulations

FEATURED SPEAKER Industry Insights Theatre

Consumer demand for organic has increased in recent years, making it more attractive for F&B manufacturers to source organic ingredients. However, for companies to market themselves as organic in Europe, it requires strict adherence to EU regulations. This year, a new regulation has been introduced that will come into force in 2021. We caught up with Marlene Milan, Research Associate at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) ahead of her presentation at Hi Europe to learn more about the implications of these changes for F&B companies.

Marlene Milan


How do organic regulations currently vary across the EU? For any international organic F&B companies looking to enter the European market, what are the main regulations to consider?
In EU member states the EU-Legislation on organic farming is fully implemented. The law currently consists of the following regulations:

  • (EC) No 834/2007 Basic Regulation on production and labelling of organic products. This basic regulation became effective on 1 January 2009 and describes the objectives, principles and most important rules on production. The basic regulation is complemented by the rules for implementation
  • (EC) No 889/2008 Implementing Rules on organic production, labelling and Control. These rules for implementation describe detailed production and labelling rules and positive lists for permitted inputs. A consolidated version covering all amendments can be downloaded as well as the single legal acts (all corrections, amendments and additions). Updates are performed regularly and promptly.
  • (EC) No 1235/2008 Implementing Rules on the import of organic products from third countries. These rules for implementation describe the arrangements for imports of organic products.
    A consolidated version covering all amendments can be downloaded as well as the single legal acts (all corrections, amendments and additions). Updates are performed regularly and promptly.

This Summer a new organic regulation “Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007” has been approved. The new regulation will come into force on 1 January 2021.

In some member states, additional or more specific requirements not covered by EU organic legislation, are laid down in national regulations/decrees. Those national rules are relevant for operators in the specific country, not for exporting countries from other countries. More details about national rules find here:

What about Germany?
As described above, in Germany the EU-Legislation on organic farming is fully implemented.

In addition to the EU organic farming label in Germany, food produced and controlled according to the EU legislation on organic farming can be labelled with the national ecolabel (Biosiegel). This also applies for imported organic products. The use of this national ecolabel is voluntary and for free. Legal basis for the national label is the Eco Labelling Law, details regarding the design and usage of the national ecolabel are covered by the Regulation on Organic Labelling (Öko-Kennzeichenverordnung). Prior to its first use, manufacturers of certified organic products who intend to use the Biosiegel must notify their intention to the Biosiegel Information Service located within the Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE).

Additionally, private grower and producer organisations with their own organic standards and labels play a major role in Germany. Many of these are members of the German Federation of the Organic Food Industry (Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft - BÖLW), the umbrella organisation for the German organic farming and food sector. The German organic farming associations’ guidelines meet the criteria of EU organic farming law, but have in some respects a broader scope. The use of private labels is restricted to members and licensees of the associations that fulfill the requirements of the private standards. In some cases the user has to sign a sublicense contract with the labelling organisation. The private labels can be used in addition to the EU eco label. The most well-known private labels are Bioland, Naturland and Demeter. 

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The EU has introduced a new organic regulation this year. What are some of the major changes?
Some of the major changes compared to the current legislation are:

  • The scope of the regulation will be expanded with products related to agriculture. In addition to the previously known categories, Annex I of the new Regulation now includes other products related to agriculture such as specific yeasts, maté, salt, beeswax etc.
  • A restricted list of cleaning agents and disinfectants for use in processing will be established
  • In the future organic products from Non-EU countries can be imported according to the following two procedures: 1) all 3rd countries that are currently recognized as equivalent will have to renegotiate the terms for trade agreements under the new EU procedure ; 2) for 3rd countries without a trade agreement, the Commission will establish a list of recognised control bodies / authorities that will be authorised to perform controls and certification in Third Countries. The EU regulation will be implemented identically within the EU and outside the EU.
  • According to the new regulation, all companies in the value chain have the same obligations with regard to precautionary measures and the handling of unauthorized substances
  • In the future “group certification” will also be permitted within the EU (so far allowed in developing countries)
  • The use of natural flavours will be strongly restricted

Learn more about the latest developments in EU organic legislation during Marlene’s presentation on "EU import requirements for organic products with a focus on Germany", on Wednesday 28 November, 15.30-16.00 at the Industry Insights Theatre