April 8, 2020

New legislation to boost organics

In a time with unprecedented demand on FMCG, there is good news for the New Zealand organic sector. Before the global pandemic bore down on New Zealand, the organic product sector had been experiencing significant growth since 2015, boosted by increasing domestic and global demand.

A claim that a product is ‘organic’ should be used only on those products that are produced in compliance with organic production standards, which may be certified by a certification body or authority. This type of marketing claim is known as a credence claim, that is, a claim that consumers are unable to independently verify the truth of themselves. Yet New Zealand does not have specific legislation that controls when a business can make an organic product claim. Instead, consumers must rely on the consumer protection provisions in the Fair Trading Act 1986 which prohibit false and misleading consumer information to control organic product claims in the market.

In a development aimed at addressing the various concerns around organic product claims, the Organic Products Bill was introduced to Parliament in early March. The main objectives of the Bill are to:

  • increase consumer confidence in purchasing organic products;
  • increase certainty for businesses wanting to make claims that their products are organic; and
  • facilitate international trade in organic products.

The Bill outlines the processes a business must follow to market a product, whether imported, domestically produced and sold, or exported,as organic, as well as introducing national standards for production rules organic businesses must follow. The Bill will also align New Zealand with the organic production regulations of New Zealand’s major trading partners, enabling greater trade with export partners that increasingly expect comparable regimes for organic production from their trading partners.

The Bill has passed its First Reading in Parliament with full support from all political parties, reflecting the universal agreement that this type of regulation is overdue and welcome. It will now be sent to Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee where the details and impacts of the Bill will be scrutinized, experts will be engaged for comment, and the public will be invited to provide input on the Bill.

Please get in touch if this impacts on you and we can discuss the implications with you and how you can get involved in the process.

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