News and Updates

7 Jul 2020

The ups and downs of international organic trade: how is this possible?

The organic sector has been shattered by various scandals on national and international levels. The bigger the scandals, the more dramatic the consequences for the countries of origin, which brings about huge shifts in international commodity flows, as import and export figures indicate.

The United States have seen the biggest changes when it comes to the origin of their organic imports, especially for corn, grain and soya which are mainly used as animal feed. Whilst soybean and corn imports from Turkey were still skyrocketing to more than $200 million in 2016, they went down to zero by 2019 after several fraud scandals had been revealed. In the course of the fraud investigations, certifiers like Control Union have been suspended by both US and EU authorities, and nearly 75 percent of formerly certified-organic operations in the Black Sea region have lost or surrendered their USDA organic certificates. Still, there was and still is obviously enough American organic meat on the market – animals that must be fed with organic grain, corn, and soybean. Luckily, countries like Russia and Ukraine apparently have plenty of organically grown animal feed available to spontaneously step in and close the gap. How is this possible, considering that conversion from conventional to organic takes 18 months at the very least? Another striking development can be seen for organic yellow peas that are used for plant-based, vegetarian and vegan products: US imports come mainly from Russia, and since very recently, also from Moldova – one of the 5 countries (besides China, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) for which the EU has already been stipulating special guidelines for additional official controls. Do these special guidelines lead to fewer imports from these countries? Not really: even though integrity doubts obviously persist, about a quarter of all organic imports to the EU in 2019 still came from Ukraine and China.

To conclude: the biggest markets for organic products, the European Union and the United States, import most from countries with high integrity doubts, and if doubts about one country become too worrying, other countries will step in quicker than you can spell “organic certification”.

Latest news
11 Aug 2021

Inspections: Remote, digital, or with earth observation...

Read more
27 Jul 2021

A new European Space Agency (ESA) project will examine this...

Read more
9 Jul 2021

The shorter the better – this is a common conclusion when it...

Read more
6 Jul 2021

Our Publications

Book Contribution

"Group Certification: Market Access for Smallholder Agriculture"

Click here

For more articles, news and videos


As a member of IFOAM Organics, we are connected to hundreds of organic organisations from around the world.

Within the Space2Agriculture network, we exchange ideas on how aerospace can facilitate remote inspections.

Through IoT4Food, we explore how to make the best use of digital data, sensor technology, and artificial intelligence.