The European Commission yesterday unveiled the three finalists in its contest for design students to come up with the new logo that will be mandatory on all organic food and beverage products, under the 2007 EU regulation on organic foods (834/2007).
A spokesperson for the Commission told FoodNavigator.com that after public vote, which is open until 31 January, the winning logo will be inserted into a draft regulation modifying Annex XI of regulation 889/2008, which laid down the rules for implementing 834/2007. The amendment and the logo will have to be adopted by the Standing Committee on Organic Farming, a meeting of which is scheduled for early February.
However the precise date when the logo will be published and become law is not yet clear. It could be between late March and May 2010. The new logo will then be compulsory on new organic products as of 1 July 2010, but industry has until 1 January 2012 before logos on all existing products need to be changed.
"As tends to be the case with EU regulation, the timescales are getting tight for implementation. Lead times on new products can be significant and if the logo is adopted only by April or May, it doesn't give long before the July deadline for its introduction for new products to be suitably labelled,” Richard Jacobs, chief executive of UK control body, Organic Farmers & Growers, told FoodNavigator.com. He added that the 18 month grace period for existing label stocks is “fortunate”.
As for whether the common EU organic logo will aid understanding of organic food, Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, was doubtful.
"The Soil Association organic logo is already understood, respected and well-recognised by consumers in the UK. It will continue to be used on organic products which are certified to our independent standards – standards that in many areas exceed those set by the European Union,” he said.
“We don't think that in the UK the European logo will add to consumer understanding here in the UK, but recognise that the new logo will be introduced across the EU from July 2010."
Moreover, Jacobs expressed concern about the practicalities of the logo that is adopted.
"A significant concern is the third design, that resembles hieroglyphics. Our processing team can't envisage how this could be used on packaging, where it would have to be quite small and the symbols would be indistinguishable and, effectively, meaningless. That does seem to demonstrate something of a lack of understanding by the judges as to how these will be used,” he said.
“There were some very promising entries, but none of the ones we really liked are in the running.”
The three finalists, selected from 3422 entries, can be viewed and voted on at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/logo/index.htm until 31 January 2010.