Natural Foods Merchandiser

Soil Association takes on air-freight carbon footprint

Air-freighted organic foods might soon have to meet fair trade standards to keep a Soil Association organic label, according to the U.K.-based certifier. The proposed standards changes, released in October, rose from a summit in July, where about 100 representatives from nongovernmental organizations, organic businesses, international agencies and governments met to discuss how air-freighted organics relate to climate change, ethical trade, global justice and development.

The rule change will be open for further comment during 2008 and is slated to take effect in January 2009. As it stands, air-freighted organic food will have to meet the Soil Association's Ethical Trade standards or the Fairtrade Foundation's standards. The rule will also require organic licensees to develop plans for reducing any remaining dependence on air freight.

Flying organic foods generates 177 times more greenhouse gases than shipping, according to the Soil Association. And, though less than 1 percent of organic imports to the United Kingdom arrive by air, 80 percent of that produce comes from low- or middle-income countries, where the carbon footprint is otherwise relatively low.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 12/p.18

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