Friday, June 4, 2010

Marketing Products according to Organic Certification Standards

When it comes to marketing your organic products whether it be the raw commodity or a value added product there are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to the organic standards.  This is the last blog from the Guidebook for Organic Certification
If you like this type of blog using a series of information on the same topic for a number of days, please let me know and also the topics you might like to read about.

Q.  Can I sell my product as organic if I am still in transition?

No. A transitional product may not be sold as organic. It must be sold as a conventional product. There
is no specific regulation defining the production and oversight of transitional crops, and therefore there is no legal label for products in transition to organic production.

Q.  Who can I sell my organic product to if I fall under the small farm exemption and am not certified?
Those under the small farm exemption may sell their products as organic as long as they follow the NOS and do not sell their product in any situation where it will be further processed into an organic product or fed to certified organic livestock. This means that your “exempt” tomatoes can’t be part of a certified organic salsa, where you sell the tomatoes to another individual or company. You can make your own organic salsa, as long as your total sales of all organic products, fresh and processed, are less than $5,000 per year and you sell direct to the consumer only. Those falling under the small farm exemption may label their products as organic when selling direct to consumers, at a farmer’s market or when selling to anyone such as a retail store, who will not further process the product.
Q.  Can I expect to get a better price for my organic product than a conventional product?

Organic prices have historically been higher than those for similar products that are conventionally produced. This is especially true for dairy products, where organic prices have historically been 20-50% higher than those for conventional dairy products. However, there is no guarantee that you will get more for an organic product. It is important to secure a market for your product and get a sense of the price you will receive before you produce the product. The USDA has a bi-weekly listing of Upper Midwest organic commodity grain and forage prices that you may want to check out.
Q.  Should I assume that if I am certified organic in the U.S. that I can sell my organic product in the international marketplace?

No. The U.S. NOP is not in complete accord with other countries’ organic standards. For instance, in the European Union, the organic farmer cannot use manure or compost produced from large confinement animal operations. If you wish to sell in an international marketplace, check with a certification agency to find out the specific requirements for your target market. Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Canada all have their own regulations. Countries around the world are in continuous development of new organic standards.

NOTE:  There is a great publication from ATTRA called "Organic Marketing Resources" that you might want to read to assist you in marketing your organic products.

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