Organic Articles: Let's See Action!

The Organic Consultancy

Let’s See Action!

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the June 2002 edition of Organic Business.

On April 16th Elliott Morley chaired the first meeting of the Organic Food and Farming Action Plan Stakeholder Forum, whose mission is “to advise the Government by the end of July 2002 on how we can create a sustainable and competitive organic food and farming sector.” So finally we have an organic action plan long overdue but no less welcome for that.

The Forum stakeholders include the usual suspects (Soil Association, UKROFS, NFU) as well as some more innovative choices such as Sustain and the RSPB. Organic processing interests appear to be mainly represented by the FDF since regrettably there are no organic manufacturers included in the Forum. If there were an organic manufacturer on the Forum what might be on their shopping list of “actionable outcomes” ? Here’s my list:

  1. Form a UK Organic Ingredients Manufacturers Group to encourage import substitution amongst UK organic manufacturers. We know that 70% of all organic foods sold in the UK are imported. I suspect this figure is conservative, since many foods manufactured in the UK are made from imported ingredients. Promoting UK manufactured organic ingredients would reduce food miles and could help in those areas where there is overproduction, such as organic milk.
  2. Set up an advisory service for manufacturers who want to go organic, in the same way as there is a helpline for farmers who want to go organic.
  3. Encourage production of UK processed egg in the formats most useful to UK industry (liquid pasteurised or spray dried). UK organic food manufacturers need this product now, preferably to Soil Association standards.
  4. Add organic food manufacturing to the syllabus of all UK Food Science and Technology undergraduate courses. As organic food becomes an integral part of the UK food industry we need to ensure that the next generation of food scientists and technologists understand the principles that underly organic food production, not least because these principles frequently represent best practice.
  5. Fund UK organic food manufacturers to exhibit at the major international food shows such as Food Ingredients Europe, Anuga and SIAL. We have the best marketed, best presented and (sometimes) the best tasting organic let’s show it to the rest of the world!

So that”s my wish-list. What’s yours?