The Commission turned to design students to come up with the new logo after the initial insignia was withdrawn for resembling too closely the logo of a supermarket chain. The three shortlisted entries were scrutinised closely to ensure there were no infringements, and some 130,000 people voted online for their favourite.
The winning design comprised twelve stars in the shape of a leaf and is said to be “a very straightforward sign containing two clear messages: Nature and Europe”. It was drawn up by German student Dusan Milenkovic, who receives €6000 in prize money. The identities and nationalities of the three final contenders have not previously been published, to prevent skewing the voting.
Agriculture and rural development commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said: "This exercise has raised the profile of organic food and we now have a logo which everyone will be able to identify with. It's a nice elegant design and I look forward to buying products carrying this logo from July this year."
The new logo has to be inserted into the organic farming regulation’s annex in the coming weeks. It will then be compulsory on new organic products as of 1 July 2010, but industry has until 1 January 2012 before labels on all existing products need to be changed. National, region, or private labels will be allowed to appear on packaging alongside the common EU logo.
Not everyone was so delighted with the design, however. Molly Conisbee, director of communications and campaigns at the Soil Association said:
"The Soil Association doesn't believe the EU logo will address the desire of consumers to know more about the provenance of their food and its journey from the farm to plate, or help to develop a connection between food producer and eater.
We don't think people who buy organic food are so much concerned about EU origins - as that it was produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards, and is free from GM and harmful additives."
Richard Jacobs, chief executive of UK control body, Organic Farmers & Growers, told FoodNavigator.com in December:
"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.”