The recently announced U.S.–Korea Organic Equivalency Agreement allows organic processed products certified in Korea or the U.S. to be sold as organic in either country. A new partnership between Quality Assurance International (QAI) and Australian Certified Organic (ACO) expands certification of organic products outside the scope of the agreement to include unprocessed foods, agricultural and forest products, raw food and livestock.
U.S. and Korean officials developed an organic equivalency arrangement to help eliminate trade barriers since changes in Korea’s regulations closed the market to U.S. organic exports last year. The equivalency agreement covers processed products containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients that were processed in either country.
QAI General Manager Jaclyn Bowen says, “The new QAI-ACO partnership will enable more companies to export organic food products to the Asian and U.S. markets. With the recent signing of the U.S.–Korea Organic Equivalency Agreement, the partnership will help farmers, processors and distributors expand their market for organic food and contribute to the growth of the organic industry.”
QAI and ACO provide an efficient, cost-effective process for certification of exported organic products to Korea by combining organic inspections thereby saving time and money. The U.S.–Korea Organic Equivalency Agreement provides access to the growing Korean organic market for US and Korea-based farmers and processors. According to U.S. industry estimates, the United States exported approximately $35 million in processed organic products to Korea in 2013.
ACO is accredited to the South Korean organic standard for raw and processed food, livestock and livestock feed certification and provides organic certification in accordance with the Korean regulations administrated by the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. ACO operates extensively throughout the Asia Pacific region.
QAI verifies organic integrity at each link of the food supply chain from agriculture to retail. QAI is accredited by multiple organizations including the USDA National Organic Program, International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS) and CARTV (Conseil des appellations reservées et des termes valorisants).
ACO Chief Certification Officer Michael Baker says, “ACO was the first certification body outside Korea to gain South Korean Organic Accreditation in 2010. We are very happy to work with QAI to assist operators with trade of organic products not covered under the U.S.–Korea Organic Equivalency Arrangement.”
The U.S. National Organic Program sets the global gold standard, which is one reason why Korea chose to work with the U.S. on its first organic equivalency arrangement. The trade partnership is similar to arrangements with Canada, the European Union and Japan.