Steps to importing organics
To import organic products you must meet the standard requirements for importing your product, and you may need to meet other requirements as well. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Know the import regulations for your kind of product
All the regulations and requirements for importing non-organic food are the same for organic food.
To import organic products you need to know about the import regulations for your kind of product. For example, if you import organic milk, you need to meet all of the requirements for importing non-organic milk.
You are strongly recommended to find out whether there are any food safety concerns about the products you want to import.
Importing organic products for sale in New Zealand
If you're importing organic products that you intend to sell or use in products sold on the domestic market, you need to know about using the term "organic" in labelling and marketing claims under the Fair Trading Act 1986.
Marketing food domestically in New Zealand as "organic" is regulated by the Commerce Commission.
Importing organic products for later export
If you want to import organic products or ingredients for export (for example, if you want to combine imported and local ingredients into a product you then export), you first need to know:
- the requirements for marketing your food product as "organic" in your export destination
- whether you will be exporting under MPI's Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP), and how to meet its requirements.
Know the requirements if you plan to export under the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP)
MPI administers an OOAP that covers exports of organic products to certain countries. If you plan to later export your product under the OOAP, or supply your products to a client that is participating in the OOAP, you should understand the requirements of the OOAP before you import your product.
Comply with the usual import requirements
You must comply with all of the usual import requirements for your product. For example, if you import organic seeds, you need to meet all of the requirements for importing non-organic seeds.
You'll also need to follow standard food importing procedures, such as customs and biosecurity requirements, listing as a food importer with MPI, and the general import clearance procedures that apply to your food type.
Accurately represent your product if you intend to sell it in New Zealand
If you're importing your food product to market and sell it as organic food in New Zealand, you must be able to comply with the Fair Trading Act 1986. This means that if you say your product is organic, you must be able to prove that it is produced organically.
Comply with the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP), if necessary
If you plan to later export your imported organic products or ingredients under MPI's Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP), or to supply your imported products to a client who is participating in the OOAP, you'll need to register as an organic operator and develop an organic management plan (OMP).
Register as an organic operator
Register and get certified with one of these MPI-approved third-party agencies:
You'll be charged for services by these agents.
Develop an organic management plan (OMP)
Develop an OMP that's evaluated and verified by an MPI-recognised third party agency (AsureQuality or BioGro NZ) for your organic importing activities. This is a formal and approved plan that covers activities like:
- transport and storage
- handling and labelling
- traceability and recall
- market access eligibility.
Clearance requirements are covered under the process for your specific food type.
Note that if you want to sell your product as organic in New Zealand, you'll know you can when you meet the requirements of the Fair Trading Act 1986.
If you're re-exporting imported organic food under MPI's Official Organic Assurance Programme, your third-party agency will let you know when you've met the requirements.
Importer responsibilities and alerts
Food cannot be sold that is unsafe, unfit for human consumption, or contaminated. It's your responsibility as an importer to ensure that all legal requirements are met.
Food importers should regularly check any notices issued for food recalled overseas, and for developing risks.
Who to contact
If you have questions about importing organic food, email firstname.lastname@example.org