Organic processed products certified in the United States or South Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.
The USDA said this measure will allow American organic farmers, processors and businesses greater access to Korea's growing market for organic products.
"Korea is a growing, lucrative market for U.S. organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. "This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture, which provides more economic opportunities for American producers, more choices for consumers, and more jobs in rural communities across the country."
According to the USDA, without this equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country's organic standards. “This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork, and delays for U.S. farmers and businesses trying to export,” the department said.
Similar to previous U.S. equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union, and Japan, the arrangement with South Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small- and mid-sized organic businesses. This is South Korea's first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner.
To gain this equivalency measure, U.S. and Korean technical experts conducted on-site audits to ensure their programs' regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.
The arrangement covers organic condiments, cereal, baby food, frozen meals, milk, and other processed products. According to U.S. industry estimates, exports of organic processed products from the United States are valued at $35 million annually.
“The United States and Korea will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other's programs periodically to ensure that the terms of the arrangement are being met,” USDA said.