Australian organic and sustainability associations and certifiers have agreed to push for a new, unifying national organic seal to allow better consumer identification of organic food and to help launch organic equivalency agreements with other countries.

At the National Organic Consumer Choice Awards presentation and dinner held in Sydney in December, several speakers talked about the need for a national organic seal. The Awards dinner was part of CORE’s (Centre for Organic Research & Education) National Organic Week.

Peter Longhurst of organic supplier Primal Foods Group said a national organic seal similar to the USDA organic and EU leaf logos was needed to achieve equivalency with major markets such as the US, Korea, and Japan.

Ben Copeman, the general manager of one of Australia’s two largest organic certifiers, the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia, said that NASAA has been a long-term promoter of the need for a unified National Organic Mark.

“We have said for years that for the organic industry in Australia to prosper as it could; we need to have a strong, unified peak body (i.e., the OFA) and a unified mark that everyone (including AO/ACO) supports,” Mr. Copeman said.

“For equivalence to occur with certain countries (e.g., Korea) a unified mark is essential, and it may well lead to equivalency being obtained with other countries somewhat earlier than may have been otherwise obtained.”

Australia’s largest organic group. Australian Organic, which certifies the Australian Certified Organic Standard, said that it supports the proposed National Organic Seal for Australia, developed and maintained by the peak body Organic Industry Standards Certification Council (OISCC).

“Similar to more developed markets such as Europe and the US, operators would have the opportunity to use the new National Organic seal which would be voluntary. Australian Organic’s subsidiary Australian Certified Organic (ACO) can already provide certified operators market access around the world including Europe, US, Canada, Korea, China, Japan and others,” Michael Baker, chief certification officer, Australian Certified Organic said.

Australia has six organic certifying companies and Adam Wilson, chair of the peak organic body in Australia, the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA), has been working for one national organic seal that can sit alongside each of the six individual seals or logos.

“Unlike many other countries such as the US and Canada, Australia does not have a national organic logo,” Mr. Wilson said. “The introduction of a national organic seal is the fastest way for consumers to identify themselves with Australian certified organic food. It simplifies the process of buying organic food and will provide instant consumer confidence in organic products.”

A US OTA study found that organic equivalency agreements help organic exports grow by almost 60%.