The role

Certification is the point of difference between biological farming and  organic business!

Market opportunity!!

Biological farming & organic businessThe role of certified organic systems is simply to have verified by an independent third party that the food /fibre is produced according to the market requirements of any given market. Thus a product produced to a NZ only standard cannot be exported to the USA or EU.

When choosing a certifier it is then important to have a market or range of markets in mind. The market requirements are different and you may have product that can enter EU but not the USA or some of the Asian markets. You may end up with 1000 lambs and through the production period need to treat some of them with a particular product or feed a different regime(drought, etc) and end up marketing various percentages into different markets ---all gaining an organic market premium ----all accepted as organic in that market. You may even have some that meet no organic market requirement, these can still be sold at full conventional market so nothing lost!

To sell 800 of your lambs at the high value organic market and 200 at the conventional market price would show a good return on a $1500± investment (cost of certification) .

Organic Certification food/ fibreView certification as a marketing tool not a bureaucratic compliance hassle. If you are marketing red roses and I was producing pink ones....pink//red---how pink is red? If a premium is there I will try to move the line! This is why we have the ISO accreditations etc in world marketing, (one might ask how much melamine is acceptable).


The system

The producer of food/fibre under the organic certification writes a management plan in accordance with the desired market requirements. This is accepted by an approved organisation.

The organisation will need to have credentials; these come from IFOAM, ISO, and a range of governments (marketplaces). It is a system of check, recheck, and then check the recheck. There are always those wishing to cut corners and the wise marketer (farmers are marketers) should always be looking at credibility to secure long term profitability thru long term high value market access.

So who is involved and what is there role;



The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements.

IFOAM was conceived in 1972. The President of the French farmers' organization, Nature et Progrès conceived of a worldwide appeal to come together to ensure a future for organic agriculture and from there, people working in alternative agriculture banded together from, initially, as far apart as India and England. Voluntary standards were developed as a base for international trade and these have formed the base of many governmental regulations and laws around trade in organic food/fibre.

There is representation on various committees from around the world. This organisation  is made up of producers and consumers.
Find out more about the history of IFOAM at;


Or simply all aspects of IFOAM at ; www.ifoam.org

IFOAM equivalence tracker to see all the trade agreements and conditions of entry to that market.

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)

For up to date information on organic trade and general matters click here. (FiBL website.)

2020 data and trends click here.

FiBL is an independent, non-profit, research institute with the aim of advancing cutting-edge science in the field of organic agriculture. FiBL’s research team works together with farmers to develop innovative and cost-effective solutions to boost agricultural productivity while never losing sight of environmental, health and socio-economic impacts. Alongside practical research, FiBL gives high priority to transferring knowledge into agricultural practice through advisory work, training and conferences. FiBL has offices in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Brussels (FiBL Europe) and numerous projects and initiatives in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa



New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

NZFSA has a set of Technical Rules for Organic Production;
The main role of MPI/NZFSA is to work with other governments around issues of market access and then to accredit NZ organisations to carry out the production audits and verify export certificates etc.

International trade recognition detail is best viewed at;

IFOAM equivalence tracker

NZ MPI OMAR arrangements at base of page the Overseas Market Access Requirments (OMAR) are listed.


MPI NZ > Japan

MPI NZ > Switzerland

MPI NZ > Taiwan


Australia.....NZ accepts all Australian certification under trade arrangements. The National Standard is their base.

View a copy of the;

NZ Commerce Commission and the Fair Trading Act.

Commerce Commission 'organic' search. Cases and statements relating to organic claim.


The United States of America Department of Agriculture administer the National Organic Programme which is regulation in accordance with the Organic Food Production Act 1990. If there is a difference of opinion between a producer/consumer/agency etc this is sorted out in court'the organic regulations are law. Exporting from NZ to the US requires certification to the USDA NOP.
NZFSA has at this time (NOV 08) given credentials to AsureQuality and BioGro NZ to act as Third Party Agencies (TPA's) in relation to the US market.
View a copy of the;


These are the rules that allow for the sale of organic product in the European Union.
For NZ producers these are applied by the TPA's (AsureQuality, BioGro) and incorporated into the NZFSA NZ Technical Rules for Organic Production.
To view the EU regulations;



For access to the Canadian market the 'Canadian Organic Regime' (COR) is the regulation that needs to be met.Below are links to the COR, premitted substances list. there is a  link page where an understanding of the relationship between Canada and the USA and other agenices is possible. Again BioGro and AsureQuality do the audits.


In Novemeber 2016 a NZ China recognition agreement was signed, at March 2020 it still was not operational.

Click here for MPI press release.

Click for Chinese reference.

To market organic product in China your are required to meet the organic regulations of China.

Often this is a ceritification of the 'whole' process and while the grower/farmer is audited it is done under the name of the processor/marketer (i.e. Fonterra, etc).

Primary production Regulation.

Processing Regulation.

Labeling and Marketing Regulation.

System Management Regulation.


Korea (Republic of;  (South)

Korea is a valuable market for NZ product and again is acessed by Korean direct certification rather than via MPI, NZFSA or a TPA.

the legislation is ' Environmentally-Friendly Agricultural Product' and Korea auditors visit NZ to carry these out.


The Korean website.


Other international market information.

You want to export organic products? You are looking for information on organic standards, certification schemes and import regulations in different countries to understand the requirements for accessing their organic markets? Then the below link/website might provide helpful information.

OrganicExportInfo informs on legal requirements and certification schemes relevant for exporting organic products into different target countries.


The NZ certifiers


AsureQuality is accredited to certify for both domestic and export to international standards.
To view AsureQuality organic standards/rules;

BioGro NZ

BioGro NZ is accredited to certify for both domestic and export to international standards.
To view BioGro NZ organic standards / rules;


Operated by the New Zealand Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association in NZ Inc. this standard represents production practices relating to Biodynamic production. This is based on the lectures by R Steiner in 1924.

The Demeter label does not meet border control for enter into most countries, but does have the potential to gain access to Biodynamic or specialised shops once across the border. Hence there are growers/farmers with a TPA + Demeter certification.

To view the Demeter standards;

Far North Organics

Far North Organic Growers and Producers Society Inc (FNOG) provide certification for producers wishing to sell to their local market and also administer the Far North Branch of Organic Farm NZ (OFNZ). OFNZ is a certification scheme working under the Bio-Gro standards for the domestic market which allows your produce to be sold Nationwide.
Visit the Far North Organic website to find out more


Organic Farm NZ

OrganicFarmNZ is an organic certification scheme designed to be a low cost certification system for (generally) small-scale growers supplying the New Zealand market only.

Established 2002 it has properties from 1ha to 100ha.

The OFNZ system uses the BioGro standards.

OFNZ website;


TeWaka Kia Ora

© Hua Maori is Te Waka Kai Ora's organic certification scheme and labelling system.  Members who wish to attain certification must comply with the standards set by this verification process.  © Hua Maori conforms to internationally recognised organic standards and accepted New Zealand standards but also adopts an indigenous framework that recognises Maori values and approaches to food production.  This includes the incorporation of Maori tikanga (protocol) and the spiritual, physical and metaphysical attributes that have guided our traditional organic economies for millennia.
Find out more


Pitfalls/ IssuesPitfalls/ Issues

  • It is imperative that you read the glossary/definitions section of the standard you are referring to.  Of main note is when the word 'organic ' is used it nearly always refers to an item certified under the standard you are reading. Stock, hay and other feeds are not always compliant when transferred between properties under the audit of different certifiers.  The same can apply to other terms such as supplement, stored feed, etc.
  • Ensure you understand the 'transition' or 'conversion' criteria and terms for each certifier. These are usually referred to as; C0=first 12 months; C1=12months -24months; C2=24months-36months; beyond 36 months is normally full certification. This is to a large degree not correct however as the EU and other regulations can achieve full market acess in 24 months. Be sure to explore all options.
  • An example of farmer issues are dairy support farmers who gain NOP certification with a NZ certifier thinking they can then supply grazing, hay etc to export dairy farmers, this has taken 3 years to achieve, only to find they need to have EU, Taiwan, Swiss, and potnetialy others-------they had not ticked all the right boxs when applying.....it then takes another 12 months!
  • Never rely on your mate, neighbour, best friend, consultant or anyone other than the written permission/interpretation of a standard/rule/regulation by the auditor from the organisation that you are certified with. Don't take action until you have this written ruling in you procession (not a promise of in the mail), fax and email can have it to you very quickly.
  • Be prepared to challange a decission----ask for the clause and regulation used to reach the 'no' answer.
  • Join the OrganicAg Extension Group and get up-skilled by mixing with farmers/growers who have been there -done that and are only too willing to help.

Other certification and verifications used by NZ companies or products traded in NZ.

Global Organic Textile Standard.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed through collaboration by leading standard setters with the aim of defining requirements that are recognised world-wide and that ensure the organic status of textiles from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labelling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.

check out which NZ companies are certified with this agancy.

Australian organic certification;

Under trade agreements between NZ and Australia organic certified product fro each country is accepted in both markets.

Government overview click here.

Australian organic body  Australia Organic Ltd

you will find some of these currently on the NZ supermarket shelf on a range of products.

The organic certification bodies currently in Australia are:
Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
Organic Food Chain
Bio-Dynamic Research Institute
Safe Food QLD

USA products.

These will carry the UDSA NOP seal. Products like Medjool dates are in most retail out lets.



EU organic.

These will carry the EU organic logo.

Products like frozen vege from Spain and a range of other products are in many retail outlets.

EU organic link.

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