mercoledì 21 marzo 2012

Products guaranteed through PGS in France finally accepted in Biocoop retail shops

The Global
Updates on Participatory Guarantee Systems worldwide.

February 2012

Volume 2 Number 15

Table of Contents
Products guaranteed through PGS in France finally accepted in Biocoop retail shops


Joelle Katto-Andrighetto

About half of the producers guaranteed through the French PGS "Nature & Progrès" have double certification: the PGS one of N&P, and the official, third party certification. This allows them to sell their products as "organic" in France’s regulated market. The other half, holding "only" a N&P guarantee, have been facing difficulties for many years to sell their products in French organic shops. Organic shops were very reluctant to source products that could not officially be called "organic". Some producers have nevertheless managed to find, here and there, and depending on affinities and negotiations, some organic shops, willing to support them.

Since June 2011, the situation has changed in the Biocoop network, a major retailer of organic products in France. Discussions initiated in 2010 with the Board of Biocoop SA have finally reached a positive conclusion, thanks to one Board member long-time supported of N&P and to the effort of many stakeholders within the Biocoop network, among which many shop managers who were also members of the N&P association. Decentralized general assemblies of the Biocoop network approved, in June last year, the following decisions:

• Biocoops are now allowed to sell products that respect an organic standard controlled by a PGS and that meet local production criteria, defined in the Biocoop standards.

• Special labeling will indicate clearly that these products do not correspond to the official definition of organic agriculture, and the label of the PGS will have to be displayed on each product.

• A special code and color will be assigned to PGS products.

• Any label referring to PGS will have to be approved by the Biocoop Board.

• Each Biocoop selling a product guaranteed through PGS will have to have the corresponding certificate and a valid license.

In other words, products guaranteed through Nature & Progrès can now be sold legally in all the Biocoop outlets throughout France, provided that they are

produced less than 150 km from the corresponding shop ("local" criteria). This does thus not grant full access to the Biocoop retail network, but it is nonetheless a welcome recognition of and support for the French leading PGS, Nature & Progrès, and for the concept of PGS in general.