Thai private sector helping create regional organic standards

Private-sector groups from six countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have formulated common standards for organic products to help meet demands of global consumers, according to the Thai chairman of the ASEAN Organic Federation.

“Organic-producing countries in ASEAN still have different standards for organic crops, livestock, aquaculture, and processed food,” said Vitoon Panyakul, chairman of the ASEAN Organic Federation.

The six countries in the Federation are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Thailand. They presented the standards last week at Biofach Southeast Asia 2019 and Natural Expo Southeast Asia 2019, international organic trade fairs held in Bangkok.

“The same organic standard in ASEAN will improve supply chain management and reduce production costs of the producing members in the region,” Vitoon said.

Returns from the trade fair provided an indicator of the rapid growth of organic products in the region. Sales volume increased by 97 percent over the previous year, for a total of $2.3 million. This Biotech fair was just the third held in Southeast Asia. More than 400 exhibitors set up displays and the event drew about 50,000 visitors.

The global organic agriculture market is now worth $104 billion, with an annual growth rate of 20% on average. Major consuming countries of organic goods include the United States, the biggest market with a value of $45.2 billion, and Germany, the second-biggest market at $10.04 billion.

“Consumers are still confused about organic products because of too many food labeling schemes such as safe conventional agriculture, good agricultural practice, pesticide-free agriculture, hygienic food, pesticide safe and organic,” Vitoon said. “Having the same organic standards in ASEAN will help address this confusion.”

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