EU-Chile deal signals new style of organic food trade

By Liz Newmark, in Brussels; Charles Newbery, in Buenos Aires; Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic food, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry

This is the most comprehensive organic trading deal struck by the EU
This is the most comprehensive organic trading deal struck by the EU
The EU has chiselled a template for international organic food trade with its agreement with Chile - a deal that could boost bilateral meat sales. 

The deal involves EU regulators recognising Chilean exports as organic when produced and controlled under Chilean controls; and Chilean regulators accepting EU food exports as organic in Chile when produced under EU organic rules.

Both sides will recognise each other’s official organic labels and increase co-operation on the issue, exchange information and settle disputes over organic trades.

And while the potential for organic meat trades between the two jurisdictions is not large, EU farmer’s federation Copa-Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen welcomed the deal and said it could boost sales of EU-made organic meat to Chile.

Organic meat needs help

The agreement is the most comprehensive organic trading deal struck by the EU and its first organic food agreement with a Latin American country. EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said: “The European organic sector continues to be one of our most dynamic production sectors and Chile has great potential in developing opportunities for organic farmers and businesses.​”

Pesonen told GlobalMeatNews that EU organic meat exporters to Chile needed all the help they could get: “The United States is also developing its organic sector well and since they are much closer to Chile than the EU, they will benefit from much lower transport costs, giving them a competitive advantage.​”

The European Commission is also negotiating a similar organic trade deal with Mexico – and it could take a series of such agreements to significantly orient the European meat sector towards organic production.

Infographic courtesy of the European Union

Pork pushing for organic status

Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general of the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV) stressed that currently “organic products in the meat sector do not play a driving role​” within the EU meat sector.

In Chile, Henrich Neisskenwirth, executive director of the Institute of Marketology Chile (IMO Chile), an organic certification organisation, recalled past efforts to export meats labelled ‘natural’ (but not organic) to the EU, including lamb from Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost province. Also, Kobe-style Wagyu beef – natural, not organic – was shipped to Germany for two years in the 2000s. And another farmer has recently sought organic certification for beef exports. However, Chile’s small meat industry is not yet producing organically on a large scale or targeting the organic market for growth. “Chile doesn’t produce any organic meat, or in important quantities,​” said Neisskenwirth.

The pork industry is one segment which could adopt organic feed to gain organic certification, but it could be a long process, he said. Chile already produces most of its beef from grass-fed cows without fattening on grains, avoiding the use of antibiotics and hormones, said Miguel Ponce, the general manager of Chile meat industry federation, Asociación Chilena de la Carne (ACHIC).

Related topics: Meat

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