Organic certifier OF&G (Organic Farmers and Growers) has joined forces with a global accreditor in a bid to expand export markets for British organic produce.

OF&G certifies over half the organic land in the UK and will join up with Control Union UK, a sustainability certification body with staff in 70 countries. It's hoped the partnership will help grant organic farmers here international certification.

“It’s an exciting development for OF&G, allowing us to build organic business opportunities not only in the UK, but in the EU and across the world through Control Union UK's extensive accreditation portfolio and international reach,” said Roger Kerr, OF&G chief executive.

Franco Costantini, Control Union UK managing director added that uniting with OF&G aligns with the firm's ambitions to expand the food assurance market in the UK and Ireland.

“OF&G have over 20 years’ experience in organic certification and a long-standing presence in the UK. Alongside this, we offer an extended network of auditors, access to international markets and a diverse portfolio of accreditation programmes," he said.

The partnership could become even more important as changes anticipated as a consequence of Brexit start to become reality.

“When OF&G operated standalone, if a business in another country wanted to certify to organic standards in the UK, we’d fly an inspector out," Kerr said.

Now, because Control Union UK has ‘boots on the ground’ in numerous countries, the process becomes much simpler and certifications can be combined.

“Vice-versa, if our licensees want to become certified with international organic schemes - such as the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) or National Organic Program (NOP) - then Control Union UK can help as they have the accreditations in place, alongside UK or EU regulation."

Brexit ramifications

Due to Brexit, the level of certification required to export food is already increasing, Kerr explained.

Not only do operators have to deal with EU regulation, they now need to consider UK regulation in a post-Brexit world.

“With more regulation to contend with, not to mention the additional time and expense it incurs at every step in the food supply network, we want to help consolidate this process by certifying to EU and UK regulations simultaneously. Together with Control Union UK, we can make this happen.”