Health & Gastronomy 03/07/2014

U.S. Organic Industry praises U.S.-Korea partnership in organic trade

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the United States and the Republic of Korea formed a partnership that will recognize the two countries' organic programs as equivalent for processed organic products and streamline access to each other's markets. According to U.S. industry estimates, the United States exported approximately $35 million of processed organic products to Korea in 2013. "Under this Administration, USDA has worked aggressively to expand markets for American organic products around the world," said Anne Alonzo, Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator. "Opening the Korean organic market to American producers will benefit the thriving organic sector and create opportunities across the organic supply chain and in rural communities." The National Organic Program, part of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that today encompasses over 18,000 organic businesses in the United States and accounts for $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. Representatives from the U.S. organic industry—including trade associations and organic producers—praised the U.S.-Korea partnership. "We welcome the reopening of the important Korean market to the U.S. organic sector. Korean consumers, like consumers in the United States, are eagerly buying more organic products as they become more informed about the benefits of organic. This new arrangement will spark additional market growth of at least $35 million annually, and is mutually beneficial to small and medium sized organic businesses both in the United States and Korea." -Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association "Removing a significant trade barrier to organic exports to Korea just nine months after the organic trade arrangement with Japan demonstrates the tremendous momentum and desire for U.S. organic products world-wide. Beginning July 1st small and medium sized organic business can focus on growth and jobs rather than complicated foreign certifications and is a welcome validation of the USDA organic standards." -Bob Anderson, Senior Trade Advisor to the Organic Trade Association and Principal at Sustainable Strategies "This is welcome news for the U.S. organic dairy industry, and our farm families across the country. The burgeoning Korean market is an opportunity for us to market our products, and more families across the world will have access to food grown to the highest organic standards. Equivalency is increasingly important as the global market for organic continues to grow." -George Siemon, Chief Executive Officer, Organic Valley "As an organic certifier with a significant portfolio in organic processed products, we see the Korean market as an important opportunity for organic companies. This agreement will benefit many small, medium and large organic businesses by reducing their costs, simplifying their certification." -Jaclyn Bowen, General Manager, Quality Assurance International (QAI) "This agreement is vital to U.S. organic business. These companies will be able to expand sales in a vibrant Korean market, our Korean customers will celebrate once again being able to stock their shelves with high quality U.S. organic foods and beverages." -Hal Shenson, Nature's Sungrown Foods "We increasingly live in a global economy. Any time countries can collaborate to eliminate or reduce trade barriers, the market is strengthened. This agreement will allow our company to greatly simplify exports to Korea, an important export market for Nature's Path organic cereals, and increase organic production of organic grains in the United States. Most importantly, this agreement allows consumers in the USA and Korea continued access to healthful, organic products." -Dag Falck, Nature's Path "We truly welcome this news. We are especially encouraged that the larger shared values and practices relative to organic food production between us are no longer overshadowed by technical differences. This reopening of the market provides new opportunities for Amy's products in the Korean market, creating jobs in our U.S. production facilities and making our organic offerings available to the many Korean consumers who are seeking a higher-quality organic vegetarian meal option." -Andy Berliner, founder of Amy's Kitchen "As the world's largest distributor of organic foods we applaud this announcement on behalf of the high quality organic food companies whose products we distribute worldwide. Streamlining the process is good for everyone." -Melody Meyer, VP Industry Relations UNFI "Annie's Inc. is excited about the creation of the Korea organic equivalency agreement, as we believe it will further growth of the organic industry". -Sarah Bird, Senior Vice President, Annie's Inc. "The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. is very pleased with the announcement of the organic equivalency agreement between the United States and Korea. In recent years we have looked to expand our sales in Asia, and we currently export products to Korea from our distribution center in California. We believe that this agreement has the potential to increase our exports of USDA organic products to Korea. We have been following this development closely, and we are grateful for the efforts of the USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Their persistence has resulted in an equivalency agreement that should be beneficial for both the United States and Korea."

di S. C.