The new label means that the South American nation is complying with EU specifications that will facilitate trade, according to agronomist Claudio Cárdenas who leads SAG’s organic agriculture department.
“We had to make some modifications to be in line with EU norms for the start of 2018, and creating a new label was necessary. In fact, it was put to a public online vote, and the most popular method of communicating was with an official certification placed on goods,” said Cárdenas.
“It can be put on any organic Chilean product, from wine to vegetables, which are sold either in Europe or in Chile.”
No plans for an equivalent with the US
While 60% of Chile’s organic produce – fruit such as berries, raspberries and apples as well as olive oil – is exported to the US and Canada to the tune of $160m, just 30% is sold into Europe. There aren’t currently any plans to reach a similar accord with the US.
Total sales are around $250-300m a year, including the remaining 10% of products sold domestically; products are sourced from 175,000 hectares of land, of which 55,000 are dedicated to wild harvesting. SAG is hopeful it can grow that piece of the local pie with grass-roots efforts.
Cárdenas added: “Chileans are still a little sectorised, but we take organic produce directly to consumers at ecological fairs in the capital Santiago, Viña del Mar, Talca, Valparaíso and Puerto Montt; the idea is to expand these markets into other cities too.”
He added: “Within Chile, organic wine is popular, as is olive oil, medicinal herbs, fruits such as apples and blueberries, and vegetables. It’s still a small market, however, which is why we are continuing to develop it. Appreciation is growing between 5% and 10% annually, which is a little slow in comparison with other countries: buying organic isn’t yet a trend, but demand is continuing to grow.”