Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wonder if they've ever been to Aldi?

The EU was planning to introduce a compulsory organic labelling scheme across all 27 countries. Like an edible blue flag system it was to provide that little added EU value to consumers. But the whole program has been put back by a year from Jan 1st 2009 to Jan 1st 2010.

However DG Agriculture had reckoned without the lawyers of Aldi, who pointed out that the EU logo, (right) had way too much similarity to their own Aldi organic logo (left). The Commission has had to back down.

Not only is the logo confusing due to the fact that "Bio" means different things in different countries but also its very purpose is questionable, as pointed out by the Soil Association,

Campaigns director Robin Maynard said: "Far from providing ‘assurances’, the bio logo will confuse people, goes against the trend for more local, regionally distinctive produce, and could lead to dilution of organic standards. And because space on packaging is limited, it is possible that the mandatory logo will push information like the Soil Association’s own symbol off the pack altogether.

“Harmonising markets to the lowest common denominator and maximising global competitiveness may be top priorities for global agribiz. But they run completely counter to the principles of the organic movement and are out of tune with the burgeoning interest among consumers for local, regionally distinctive foods and closer connection with producers.

“People want to buy locally sourced organic sausages supporting Norfolk, Cumberland, or Schleswig-Holstein producers not some anonymous ‘Euro-organic sausage’.”

The added costs caused by this cock up have not even been estimated - watch this space.

Of course one cannot expect senior Commission decision makers to ever visit budget shops like ALDI, so I guess they cannot be blamed for the farce.

Comment thread

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonder if you heard the discussion on BBC World about this, this morning, where Lord Melchett of the Soil Association (Note to brain: please stop popping up associations with Blackadder and the Flat Earth Society - these are serious people!) was attacked (almost literally) by the journalist for this stance, because the fact that something was flown in from the other side of the world somehow had nothing to do with environmental considerations and because organic food from developing countries might lose the 'organic' label.

But the Soil Association is completely right of course: if you want to label a product as produced in the most environmentally friendly way possible, you have to take transport into account. And if that harms developing countries, this may be bad, but it is a different bad than harming the environment.

Some people find it hard to accept that there is not one concept of The Good, or that pursuing one Good may harm another. Life is about choices. Tough.