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A Major Boost for Organics, says Sutton

The granting of ISO/IEC Guide 65 accreditation to AgriQuality New Zealand opened the way for a major boost for exports of organic foods to the European Union, the Minister of Agriculture and Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton, said today.

Certenz, AgriQuality New Zealand’s certification business, has been awarded ISO/IEC Guide 65 accreditation. As a result, AgriQuality has become the first New Zealand company to use this accreditation to verify organic production systems to the standard required by the European market.

The European Union had recently moved to prevent fraudulent claims of `organic’ status, Mr Sutton said, but there was no suggestion that New Zealand was involved in any misuse of the term. The EU will require organic food products grown to the production standards required by an agency accredited with the ISO/IEC Guide 65.

AgriQuality New Zealand has a robust 100-year legacy of supplying independent testing, analysis and quality assurance systems for farm, food, forestry and plant products. AgriQuality CEO, John Morgan, said it was significant that Certenz was able to provide market access into the EU for producers of organic products.

“Our history in supplying sound testing, analysis and verification systems to the food and agribusiness sectors means we offer a practical, business-driven certification system. This accreditation gives mainstream producers and food companies a straightforward opportunity to take advantage of the huge market potential opening up for organics.”

The accreditation would boost trade access for exporters of organic produce and create a position of market advantage, he said.

Of New Zealand’s $35 million worth of organic food exports, one-third is to the European Union, mainly kiwifruit and other fresh fruit.

The ISO/IEC Guide 65 accreditation is awarded by International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ). Certenz Manager, Andrew Baines said the internationally-recognised standard ensured the integrity of organic food production systems. He expected that several hundred New Zealand organic food producers would be interested in it.

To achieve accreditation to ISO/IEC Guide 65, Certenz underwent a rigorous auditing process which verified that its systems are of a high quality required to certify organic food production systems.

The assessment included ensuring Certenz operates a quality system, maintains records and confidentiality to required standards, has an adequate complaints procedure and the required appropriate facilities. The process included an evaluation (carried out by a technical expert in organic production systems) of Certenz’s performance in auditing an individual organic production system.

Growers of organic food who want to be certified are taken through a process that builds on AgriQuality’s own organic standard.

Certenz offers no hidden inspection costs, no levy, no extra charges for the standard and a straightforward registration and application process, as well as simple checklists and guides for compliance.

Mr Sutton said organic production was becoming more important for New Zealand. Exports of organic foods would continue to rise to meet demand in niche international markets, he said.

“We would be crazy not to develop and exploit such niche opportunities to the fullest extent possible. The accreditation of Certenz opens another door for our organic producers,” Mr Sutton said.

ends


For more information please contact:
Andrew Baines, Business Manager, Certenz, ph 07-838-5872

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