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Organic products have seen a 69% increase in sales from €18.1 billion in 2010 to €34.3 billion in 2017. Following up on the ECA's Special Report No 9/2012 published in June 2012, the ECA decided in 2018 to make another audit into the EU's organic market. The latest report has just been published, and it found that the control system had improved, and its earlier recommendations had generally been implemented, but some challenges remained. In this report, the ECA makes further recommendations to address the remaining weaknesses it identified.  In particular it recommends that MSs improve the supervision of imported organic products through better cooperation, as well as to carry out more complete traceability checks. The EU imported organic products from more than 100 countries in 2018, but many products in the recent audit still could not be traced back to the producer or the process took longer than three months. In addition, the changes in the legal framework, coordination and procedures recommended previously, are not EU-wide and vary between MSs.

Organic products are marketed at prices up to 150% higher than the price of comparable conventionally produced food. This price differential drives an increase in production, but also an increase in fraud, which recent cases had shown. Mafia ties were found in Italy related to wheat imports from Romania that had been incorrectly labelled as organic. Another example of fraud was 40 tonnes of German strawberries labelled as organic, which were found to contain 25 pesticides.

  Read the article here and the ECA's full report

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The European Court of Auditors (ECA),  which is the EU's independent external auditor, is conducting an audit of organic-food checks in the EU. The auditors will examine the control system governing the production, processing, distribution and import of organic products. They will seek to assess whether consumers can now have greater confidence that products are truly organic than they could at the time of the ECA’s last audit of the sector in 2012. 

Retail sales in the EU organic market grew by 54% between 2010 and 2015. The total area under organic farming in the EU increased by 21% over the same period. Imports of organic produce grew by 32% between 2012 and 2015. Although the price of organic products is higher than that of conventionally produced products, the market struggles to meet demand and the premium that consumers are willing to pay has the potential to encourage fraudulent organic sales. The ECA has also published a background paper on the organic food supply. 

Under the Common Agricultural Policy, certified organic farmers receive a “greening” payment. Organic farmers can also receive support from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for both conversion to and maintenance of organic farming practices. This Fund’s total contribution to organic-farming payments for 2014–2020 amounts to €6.5 billion.

The audit report is due to be published in early 2019. It will form part of a series of ECA reports on various aspects of the food chain that includes Food Waste, Animal Welfare (underway) and Food Safety (underway).

                Read the ECA's Press Release at: Organic Supply Audit

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