Development of organic market and future of organic products for school meals in Ukraine

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For the last two days, a discussion took place at BIOFACH 2021 eSPECIAL regarding the achievement of ambitious goals of the European Green Deal. In particular, what needs to be done to reach the target of 25% of land under organic farming by 2030, which is a part of the EU’s «Farm to Fork» strategy. There are different opinions regarding the matter, such as supporting organic producers through eco-schemes or through organic promotion campaigns. And every opinion has its pros and cons.

Public procurement is considered to be the best tool for promoting organic food products.

And now in many EU countries, there are already successful examples of using organic products in public procurement. On the other hand, the demand for organic products is growing faster than the lands under organic production and the EU countries are forced to import organic products, in particular, from Ukraine to meet this demand.

Ukrainian producers respond quite well to these requests because as we know more than 85% of products are being exported. But what about the development of the domestic market, whether producers will receive support and when we can expect the introduction of organic products, for example in school nutrition, which is being reformed very fast.

About this, decided to ask Sergiy Glushchenko, Deputy Minister for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine. You have been taking care of the development of organic production in Ukraine for a while now. What do you think has changed in recent years and what perspectives for the development of the domestic organic market do you see in Ukraine?

Sergiy Glushchenko: The organic sector in Ukraine demonstrates steady production growth every year.

Thus, in 2019, compared to 2017, the total area of ​​organic lands increased by 38% and was 468 thousand hectares, which was 1.1% of the total area of ​​agricultural lands.

Also in 2019, there were 617 certified producers in the field of organic production in Ukraine, which is 113 more than in 2017.

The assortment and volumes of production are growing and we notice that the number of producers of products with added value is increasing: dairy and meat products, cold-pressed oils, juices, beverages, berry pastes, jams.

The “organic” trend becomes more and more popular: in Ukraine, small and medium-sized producers produce organic more actively now, and retail chains provide entire shelves and start to open “organic” departments.

At the same time, there are all conditions for the further significant growth of this sector, not least due to the geographical proximity to solvent and growing organic markets in the European Union (EU), and also due to significant unrealized potential of the domestic organic market in Ukraine.

An important premise for the further development of the domestic organic sector is the formation of the national legal framework complied with European legislation and efficient state policy.

Thus, in 2019 the Law of Ukraine «On the Main Principles and Requirements to Organic Production, Circulation and Labelling of Organic Products» was enacted, it defines the main principles and requirements to organic production, circulation and labeling of organic products, principles of legal regulation of organic production, circulation of organic products and functioning of the organic market, the legal foundation for activities of central executive bodies, organic market participants and direction of state politics in the mentioned spheres.  

At the moment, the ministry is already finalizing the implementation of the national certification system of organic production.

Another step towards stimulating the development of the industry will be state support for organic producers that will provide farmers with compensation for certification of organic production, the grants per 1 hectare of agricultural land, cheaper prices for permitted PPE and fertilizers.

In 2021, state support for organic producers will be introduced for the first time. For the support, this year, the amount of UAH 100 million will be allocated and it’s expected to increase in the coming years. During the last year, the school meal reform has been actively implemented, you take an active part in this process. Do you see organic products in school meals in Ukraine? After all, many countries promote organic production through the public procurement system and, above all, through school meals.

Sergiy Glushchenko: The Ministry of Economy together with the team of the wife of the President of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, also with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the AMCU and the State Service on Food Safety and Consumer Protection are actively working on reforming the school meal system. The reform is carried out according to the plan determined by the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on August 5, 2020, № 1008.

Among the main achievements in this area is the approval of three acts: Hygienic requirements for food production and circulation at general secondary education institutions, Methodological recommendations on procurement in the sphere of catering in educational institutions, as well as Guidelines for development, implementation and use of permanently active procedures based on the system analysis principles of dangerous factors and control at critical points for educational institutions.

Regarding the place of organic products in school meals, I believe that such products can be implemented in the diet of Ukrainian schoolchildren, because it’s a certified production that excludes the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms, etc. It should be noted that the formation of a national system of organic certification is currently being finalized. Its implementation will make possible to review the requirements for procurement for catering in educational institutions in order to provide students with organic food.
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