The collaboration will see OF&G’s expertise in the field bolstered by the global reach of Control Union UK, building business opportunities across the EU and the rest of the world.
OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr said: “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. Now, because Control Union UK have ‘boots on the ground’ in numerous countries, the process becomes much simpler and certifications can be combined.
International organic schemes
“Vice-versa, if our licensees want to become certified with international organic schemes, such as the Japanese Agricultural Standard or National Organic Program, then Control Union UK can help as they have the accreditations in place, alongside UK or EU regulation.”
In light of the challenges surrounding Brexit, the collaboration provides an opportunity to deliver organic certification and food safety assurance as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible for UK and EU businesses. This will become more poignant as the level of certification required to export increases.
“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,” Kerr added. “Together with Control Union UK, we can make this happen.”
Expand the food assurance market
Commenting on the new partnership, Franco Costantini, MD at Control Union UK, said uniting with OF&G aligned to its 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,” said Costantini. “Alongside this, we offer an extended network of auditors, access to international markets and a diverse portfolio of accreditation programmes.”
Meanwhile, food firms need efficient back office systems to ensure regulatory compliance in the wake of Brexit, according to Craig Naylor-Smith, managing director of multi-channel services firm Parseq.
Lobby Parliament on organic contingencies
Despite new EU organic regulation passed into law in the UK ahead of Brexit providing some stability until December 2020, Kerr questioned what organic regulation would look like long-term, with uncertainty still needing to be addressed.
“OF&G continue to lobby Defra and the EU Commission (via IFOAM EU) to ensure more contingencies are put in place so that the wheels of the industry can keep moving,” concluded Kerr.