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Domestic consumer protection low priority for government

Domestic consumer protection low priority for government

Organics Aotearoa NZ deeply disappointed

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand, the umbrella group representing New Zealand's organic sector organisations, has just been told by the Ministry of Primary Industries that protecting consumers in the $150 million+ domestic certified organic food and beverage market from misrepresentation and adulteration of organic products claiming to be organic is a not a priority, and it will not commit to any further discussions on this topic until 2017.

OANZ Chair Brendan Hoare says that his organisation is unhappy with the reasons given.

“Basically, MPI have shrugged their shoulders at the fact that there is proven widespread abuse of the term organic in the domestic market. They seem not to care that New Zealanders are being duped", said Mr Hoare.

“This is completely out of step with the rest of the world, our international market demands, and best practice. Organics is the fastest growing multi-food sector in the world. It is growing year on year at 10% and the world wants what we in New Zealand have. Yet it now seems that the authorities don't care that the domestic market is a dog’s breakfast. Frankly, it is embarrassing.”

“OANZ spent 14 months working with MPI to agree on the definition of the problem, and to scope the impact it has on consumer confidence, industry investment, brand New Zealand, and consumer protection. We agreed with MPI that to realise its own 2030 strategy of ‘Growing and Protecting NZ’ we absolutely need organic regulation. Then, post 2014 election, there came a change of leadership in MPI and the Ministry now claims that there is no ‘serious risk to the health and wellbeing of consumers or to (existing) trade’ from lack of regulation."

"This is illogical and demonstrates a complete disconnect with their own strategy and commercial opportunities for New Zealand - especially since organic exporters have also requested the regulation of the domestic market to shore up their international position”, says Mr Hoare.

“In other words – according to MPI, New Zealand consumers will only be protected if foreign countries intervene to require us to be protected! This is pretty much the approach the New Zealand government has applied to food standards across the board ever since the Food Safety Authority was set up. It is irrational and lacks leadership.”

“OANZ is deeply disappointed – although not surprised – that the government gives regulating to protect the consumer's right to purchase genuine certified organic food the lowest priority.”


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