Mixed effect from Japanese regulations

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic food

The new Japanese regulations on organic foods are having a profound
effect on the organic food industry, reports market analyst Organic
Monitor.

The new Japanese regulations on organic foods are having a profound effect on the organic food industry, reports market analyst Organic Monitor. Although this is a positive step because it brings uniform standards to organic foods, plus an easy-to-recognise common organic logo, the regulations may marginalise many Asian producers of organic foods, continues Organic Monitor​.

In a bid to provide consistent regulations in the organic industry, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) revised the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) for organic products in 2000. All organic foods sold in Japan after March 2001 must be produced according to organic standards that conform to state regulations on organic food growing and production. All organic foods that meet JAS standards are given the official JAS seal and those that do not are not officially recognised as organic products.

Prior to the ruling, organic foods sold in Japan were produced according to varying organic standards. Some organic foods were grown with no synthetic pesticides while the majority were grown with low amounts of pesticides and chemicals.

The new ruling, although hailed by many as positive, has actually had an adverse effect on some Japanese and Asian producers of organic products. Many Japanese organic food producers, especially fresh produce growers, are not part of the JAS organic certification programme and their organic products do not receive the JAS logo. It is estimated that less than 20 per cent of all organic fresh produce grown in Japan does not meet JAS standards.

Understanding the need to meet JAS standards, organic food importers and foreign inspection and certification bodies have been busy attempting to get their standards accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture. The Australian certification and inspection body, NASAA, was the first to receive accreditation in August 2001 and all organic foods certified by NASAA can now be sold with the JAS official logo in Japan. In the last month, France-based Ecocert and California-based Quality Assurance International (QAI) have also received accreditation from the Japanese government.

The report continues that the above developments have led to a large influx of imported organic products that meet JAS standards. These developments have had a detrimental effect, in the short term, on Japanese and Asian producers. Chinese exporters of green fresh produce, in particular, are seeing lower interest from Japanese companies because of the need to have the JAS seal on organic products. Critics of the JAS standard maintain that it is a non-tariff barrier to market entry and one that favours Australian, European and American producers.

Related topics: Regulation

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