You are here
Stricter organic guidelines and “food safety fusion” are among the top predictions made by Quality Assurance International (QAI), a leading certifier of organic and gluten-free products, for its 10-year prophecy for the organic industry.
“QAI was founded the year before the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 was passed by Congress,” explained Jaclyn Bowen, QAI’s general manager. “We’ve been active with organic since its formative years. We realized we have a huge database of organic statistics and knowledge that we could share to help the industry plan for a more organic future.”
The predictions, added Bowen, are a drastic shift from the industry environment that was in place in 1989, the year QAI was founded. During that time, there was no federal program for organic in existence and the industry was 100 percent self-regulated. Further, there were an estimated one dozen organic certification agencies operating in North America at that time, and the USDA reported 5,328 U.S. organic growers with only 2,264 certified.
Based on its more than two decades of experience, QAI’s Organic Forecast for 2023 is as follows:
Prediction #1: Stricter Organic: The USDA’s National Organic Program and National Organic Standards Board will bring even more rigor to federal regulations in terms of specificity for practices and allowed substances and practices. Government oversight will make it more difficult for “organic” to be used loosely as a marketing term, i.e. “Organic Café” or “Organic Resort.”
Prediction #2: Food Safety Fusion: The organic food supply will fuse with food safety and other “product integrity” programs, adding more disciplined food safety practices that are audited and certified at even the smallest of farms and plants. Organic and food safety audits will be increasingly synchronized. QAI anticipates continued growth in the offering of multiple audits so companies may bundle organic, gluten-free, kosher, and/or numerous food safety audits into one thorough audit and inspection.
Prediction #3: Harmonic Convergence: International standards for organic will be harmonized with USDA organic, removing former obstacles to international trade. The U.S. also will move closer to its European neighbors in Non-GMO verification and labeling requirements.
Prediction #4: Sustainably Organic: Increased focus on companies’ impact on biodiversity, water and soil conservation will translate to additional sustainability metrics in organic practices. As the spirit of organic is to grow in harmony with nature, each farm and company’s environmental impact will be under more scrutiny.
Prediction #5: Transparency Made Tangible: Consumers need to know and trust the sourcing of the products they buy will drive total transparency in the organic production chain, and make QR (quick response) codes – already introduced by QAI in July 2012 - commonplace for all organic certificates and on packaging. The USDA Seal for organic will remain credible, and online tools will be used by consumers to see the credibility of each product’s organic claims.
Prediction #6: No More Shopping Gaps: Practical steps will be taken to be more inclusive and steps will be taken to include new or emerging industry sectors. This will make organic certification available in sectors currently excluded in the regulations – like aquaculture/seafood. It also will address underserved categories like dietary supplements, pet food, personal care, cleaning supplies, fiber and flowers. If it starts with a plant, mammal or fish, it can be certified organic. Consumers will be able to find certified organic products in all sections of the supermarket and pharmacy.
Prediction #7: Organic Literacy is Evident: After years of some confusion in the marketplace, efforts by the NOP, Organic Trade Association, and retailers pay off in increased consumer literacy for organic. Land grant universities also help increase knowledge in organic through their own research initiatives and increase in organic and sustainable agriculture tracks.
Prediction #8: Accessible Organic: Larger organic production, from farm acreage expansion to processing facilities, will translate into organic landing where it is most needed: schools, hospitals, food banks, convenience stores and in mainstream America’s home.