What 'organic' means
'Organic' is a labelling term used on products produced in accordance with organic production standards, which may be certified by a certification body or authority.
Organic agriculture is based on minimising the use of external inputs. For example, avoiding or excluding the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, antibiotics, growth promotants, genetic modification, and irradiation. Organic handlers, processors, and retailers follow voluntary standards to maintain the integrity of organically produced products.
It's important to note that organic certification standards are not food safety standards. Organic products must meet the same food safety standards that apply to all food for sale in New Zealand. Read about MPI's organic food policy and the background behind it:
Organic food is treated in the same way as all other foods by MPI. This means that the same risk management framework for assessing safety and suitability is applied to all food for sale in New Zealand, including organic food, and the products used in its production.
MPI will, where appropriate, provide authoritative information in relation to organic food so consumers can make informed decisions.
MPI will continue to develop its role as the government certifier for organic food exports.
Background to MPI’s organic food policy
Organic agriculture and food production systems avoid or exclude the use of most synthetic pest control compounds and fertilisers, antibiotics, growth promotants, and food additives derived from non-organic sources, as well as genetic modification and irradiation.
Organic food must meet the same safety and suitability standards as other foods for sale in New Zealand. These include, as appropriate, the labelling and composition standards of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Code – for example, requirements for allergen warnings, date markings, manufacturer/distributor/importer contact details, ingredient listing, and nutrition information.
MPI monitors chemical residues and microbiological hazards in a range of foods, including organic foods. To date, no specific concerns have been identified relating to organic food products in general.
Further information about MPI’s organic food policy
Requirements for organic products
The requirements your organic operation needs to comply with depend on the market for the organic product.
Organic products sold in New Zealand need to
- meet the standard regulatory requirements for the type of product (for example, dairy, honey, and meat)
- comply with the Fair Trading Act 1986 in respect to using the term 'organic' in labelling and marketing claims.
Exported organic products need to
- meet the standard New Zealand regulatory requirements for the type of product – for example, dairy, honey, or meat
- meet Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) requirements if being exported 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. There are also additional requirements, depending on the type of organic product being imported and its final use.
Further information about organics
Find more general information relevant to organic products.
View national and international organics-related websites and organic certification bodies.
Familiarise yourself with any service-related costs you may be required to pay to MPI if operating under the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP).
Access registers and lists including details of exporters and third-party agencies operating under the OOAP.
Browse a list of forms and templates relating to the OOAP.
Find out more about general food safety requirements you may need to comply with:
Keep up to date
It’s important to keep up with any new or revised organics information, including requirements, consultations, policies, and other content changes.