Growing, processing, and selling organic products in New Zealand
There are different requirements for organics depending on what your business does. Find out about the requirements for producing, processing, selling, exporting, importing, labelling, and getting certified as organic.
Government considering changes to organic product law
The Organic Products Bill began going through Parliament in 2020. If accepted, it will help with developing new standards for organic products. It would set requirements for most businesses involved, from production through to sale.
The purpose of the bill is to:
- increase consumer confidence in buying products labelled "organic"
- increase certainty for businesses claiming products as organic
- facilitate international trade in organic products.
Cabinet paper [PDF, 1.2 MB]
Discussion document [PDF, 757 KB]
Regulatory impact assessment [PDF, 315 KB]
Consultation held in 2021
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) ran a public consultation to hear your views on the draft organics regulations. Submissions closed in June.
What "organic" means
Organic food is produced without using:
- most synthetic fertilisers and pesticides
- some medicines (like antibiotics)
- growth hormones
- food additives
- most synthetic chemicals.
Organic food also can not be genetically modified or irradiated.
Food and products sold as organic need to be certified. This assures buyers that they've been made in an organic way.
Requirements for organic products
Your requirements will depend on your organics business activity and whether you are:
You'll also need to check the general requirements for the type of food you're working with. All food, organic or not, needs to meet general food safety requirements.
To sell products labelled as organic in New Zealand, you must:
- comply with the Fair Trading Act 1986 in respect to using the term "organic" in labelling and marketing claims
- meet the specific requirements for your type of food product (for example, dairy).
Fair Trading Act 1986 requirements for claiming products as organic
If your product is organic, you can say this on the label. Marketing claims and using the term "organic" on food labels is controlled through the Fair Trading Act 1986. This means that:
- representations about food must be truthful and accurate, and they must not mislead consumers
- you must be able to demonstrate that products labelled as "organic" are produced organically
- if you claim that your products are "certified organic", you must be able to back this claim up with a certificate.
Use of the term "organic" under the Fair Trading Act 1986 is enforced by the Commerce Commission.
To export organic products, you must:
- meet the specific requirements for your type of food product (for example, dairy)
- meet Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) requirements if exporting under the OOAP
- meet market access requirements of the country being exported to, where not covered under the OOAP.
All imported organic products need to:
- meet the standard New Zealand legal requirements for imported food
- meet the specific requirements for the type of food product (for example, dairy).
Getting certified as organic
You can choose to have your food or products certified as organic. This means that:
- you've followed a set of standards, and
- a certifying organisation has verified this.
Check the labelling requirements for your food type. Food labels must comply with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Code.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the information on this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org