Organic products of the future

Organic products of the future

29 June 2018 News from the Company

The National Organic Union (NOU) has celebrated the 5th anniversary of signing of the memorandum on its establishment. Since then, it has become the leader of the organic movement in Russia, having united like-minded people in a successful team. So, what has been done over the 5 years and what is the future of organic production?


A strong alliance

A few years ago, the customers had no idea as to what organic products were. However, the situation has recently changed and now members of the public have a greater awareness of good nutrition. Moreover, the customers have shown eager enthusiasm for healthy food.

‘Our most significant achievement is that we have sparked the interest of people in organic production’, shares Sergey Bachin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AGRANTA Group. ‘Before, the public lacked the comprehension of the term ‘organic’.

Conversely, nowadays the consumers have caught up with the notions of organic goods, which are produced without any food additives, chemical fertilisers, antibiotics and growth hormones.’

Among the major areas of focus of the NOU are the development of the organic agricultural market, and the promotion of organic products in Russia, support for producers and the establishment of a legislative framework governing organic farming and consumption.

‘Over the years of work, three State Standards have been adopted, and the first draft of the Russian law on organic production has been prepared’, says Oleg Mironenko, Executive Director of the NOU.

‘We took an active part in the establishment of this law. Currently, the draft is under review in the State Duma. It is expected to be adopted by the end of year 2018.’

The NOU includes the leading players in the industry and the pioneers of organic production in Russia. Among them Stefan Duerr, President of EkoNiva Group, and Savinskaya Niva, organic farming enterprise.

‘We joined the NOU a year ago’, says Stefan Duerr, President of EkoNiva Group. ‘At first, I was sсeptical about it, as everyone was trying to prove their point without making any real sense. Despite all the obstacles and difficulties, the NOU managed to unite us in a strong team.

Although every member still has their own opinion, now we are trying to achieve a common goal — promotion and protection of high-quality organic products.’

Law and order

There is a difference of opinion on the draft, which is being reviewed by the State Duma now. According to experienced manufacturers, while the industry is still undergoing a formative period, the law can cause serious harm to organic production in Russia.

‘I am not against the law, as it is essential’, emphasises Stefan Duerr. ‘But it is better to have no law than a bad one. Under the National Organic Union agreement, producers can create their own quality marks, work within the standards of the union and as a result win the trust of consumers.’

Ilya Kaletkin, member of the Union, supports the expert opinion of his colleagues. He also believes that the law enactment should meet the needs of both producers and consumers.

‘The process of the law formation was long and complicated’, shares Ilya Kaletkin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arivera Group. ‘The draft, which was introduced and passed the first reading, was rough. The same is happening in the second reading, as the text undergoing approval causes concern. That is why now we are preparing amendments and comments. We hope that the statutory wording will be corrected, as without the good law, we have a slim chance of creating a functioning system.’

Other members of the NOU argue that any law is better than its complete absence.

‘Manufacturers definitely need to be supported legally’, says Vladimir Sadovin, Director General of Azbuka Vkusa. ‘Legalisation of the law for the retail sector will enable us to fight with pseudo-organic production.’

The NOU members expect that the adoption of the law will be followed By Darya DENISOVA 11 by a surge in demand for product certification. However, it would be difficult to control counterfeit goods.

Implementation of a rigid system, which would include certification and protection of organic producers from counterfeiters, is essential for Russia.

‘I’m not sure that the law will have a positive impact on the growth of this agricultural sector’, continues Anatoly Nakaryakov, ‘but I’m convinced that it can protect the producers from counterfeit products and the so-called greenwashing.’

Sergey Bachin emphasises the importance of this issue and proposes to use the NOU as a public tool to control the certification centres.

Bio, eco, organic

The term organic product was introduced by the Russian State Standard. At the same time, the concepts of bio, eco and organic are not subject to certification by the law. Experts say that such inscriptions on the packaging of products mislead the customers. In Europe, on the contrary, manufacturers use all three concepts and consider them equivalent.

‘As these terms are directly related to organic products, we need to protect them by the law’, says Ilya Kaletkin. ‘Regulation of these terms by one law would be the best decision in this case, but it will not be an easy thing to do.’

Market driver

What can drive the development of the organic market? Again, opinions on this matter vary.

‘The domestic market can be a good driver of the development of organic production’, says Stefan Duerr, ‘it is risky to rely on the export market. There is a significant share of customers preferring organic products within the country. I am convinced that the Russian economy will develop and the purchasing power will grow.’

Vladimir Sadovin disagrees and suggests several ways of further development.

‘It is wrong to think that the domestic market will be ready to buy organic products at any price price. In my opinion, to reduce the production and processing costs, we should use both ways of expanding: the domestic and the export market.’

This heated discussion proves that in spite of the fact that organic production is a painstaking and immensely complicated activity, such products will definitely have a great future in Russia. The participants of the meeting assure that if they had returned to the past, they would have definitely started this business again.

By Daria Denisova
Source: Website EkoNiva APK Holding
Translation from Russian