As it stands in India imports of any organic food product are banned unless an Indian government body certifies it, in this case the National Accreditation Body (NAB).
However, many countries in the EU do allow the import of Indian organic products if NAB-certified, a food importer and distributor told FoodNavigator-Asia at the condition of anonymity.
“It is hurting the business, because a lot of the organic food companies in the EU are looking at our market. There is scope for their products to be sold here. The EU should lobby for equal treatment like they did for the US,” he said.
The National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA) sets the standards for organic foods in India and NAB offers the accreditation.
A spokesperson for APEDA told FoodNavigator-Asia that the import of organic foods from overseas to India is not banned as per the current regulations - as long as it is meant for re-export.
“You can import an organic product from the European Union to India as long as it is to be used as an ingredient in a product meant for exports. The final product can claim to be an Indian organic food despite the imported ingredient,” he said.
But that may not be enough for organic food companies in the EU, who do have a glad eye on the growing in Indian market. According to data from the agri ministry, the domestic organic products market in India is worth US$530m.
Last year, India produced around 4m metric tonnes of certified organic products, which includes all varieties of food products namely basmati rice, pulses, honey, tea, spices, coffee, oil seeds, fruits, processed food, cereals and herbal medicines.
On the issue of changing regulations, the APEDA spokesperson said that it would require parliamentary proceedings, which would have to be initiated only after submissions are made by the affected on a sustained basis.