Beginning Jan. 1, organic products certified in Japan or in the U.S. may be sold as organic in either country.

The agreement announced at the Natural Products Expo East in September, will streamline U.S. farmers” and processors” access to the growing Japanese organic market, supporting job creation and business development on a global scale. The organics sector in the U.S. and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined.

Leading up to the announcement, U.S. and Japanese technical experts conducted on-site audits to ensure their programs” regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labeling practices were compatible. Both parties individually determined that their programs were “equivalent” with no restrictions for organic plant and plant products.

This means that, for the first time, certified organic farmers and businesses in the U.S. don’t have to prove that didn’t use a specific substance or production method to gain access to the Japanese organic market. The partnership streamlines the export certificate process, which also reduces the paperwork burden for farmers and businesses.

For packaged retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the USDA-authorized certifier and may use the USDA organic seal. Use of the Japanese organic logo is required on plant and plant-based products and requires a Japanese Agricultural Standards-authorized importer.

Organic products not regulated by the JAS law, such as meat, dairy products and alcoholic beverages, may also be exported to Japan. These products do not require an export certificate and may be labeled with the USDA organic seal but not the Japanese organic logo.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry  and Fisheries and the USDA National Organic Program, which oversee organic products in their respective countries, will take on key oversight roles.

The two countries will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other’s programs periodically to verify that the terms of the partnership are being met. This arrangement covers only products exported from and certified in the U.S. or Japan.


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