· 4 min read
In today’s world of healthy living, consumers’ demand for organic vegetables and foods is explosive. Think of the farmer’s market, where people flock to buy directly from the growers. But how do conscious consumers know their food is indeed grown without pesticides and antibiotics?
Long before the USDA Organic Transition Initiative, Quality Assurance International (QAI) supported farmers looking to transition their land to organic. For nearly 34 years, QAI has been an active industry leader in the fast-growing U.S. organic sector. QAI certifies products to the USDA’s mandatory National Organic Program (NOP). Headquartered in San Diego, California, the company has grown to certify operations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Japan and the European Union.
QAI transitional certification incentivizes farmers as they transition their land from conventional to organic growing methods. With the QAI Certified Transitional program, farmers, processors, distributors and retailers can ask for a price premium for certified transitional products as they support the expansion of organic acreage to match consumer demand.
NSF’s QAI team inspects and reviews records to provide transitional certification at every stage of the supply chain, including shipping, distribution and packaging. But it all starts with farming and harvesting. To improve soil quality, a core tenet of organic certification, QAI verifies that farmers have not applied prohibited substances for at least three years before their crops can be labeled as organic. The QAI program also encourages farmers to rotate crops to improve soil fertility, increase yield and resist disease. On top of that, harvesting and processing equipment must be cleaned and sanitized by the USDA’s NOP requirements.
Demand for certified organic products has outpaced supply, causing companies to not fill orders or import foreign organic ingredients to fulfill demand. Additionally, transitioning farmland to organic is costly, with limited return on investment, since it takes three years to become eligible for organic certification. These barriers have been hindered by the growth of organic farm acreage, which is only about 1% of U.S. farmland, despite double-digit annual organic revenue growth. QAI’s program helps offset these barriers by facilitating the transition of farmland to organic, allowing for premium pricing for the higher-value crop, which enables consumers to support the conversion of more organic acreage.
The certificate provides proof for food companies, which can use the on-package QAI Certified Transitional logo to guide consumers to these products.
When farmers and consumers support the organic industry, they help the environment by reducing the use of synthetic chemicals. Chemicals used in conventional food production often leach back into the surrounding environment. By using more natural practices, organic production protects wildlife, promotes biodiversity, and helps to maintain and improve native ecosystems.
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QAI’s Certified Transitional program provides certification to recognize and incentivize farmers to transition their land from conventional to organic growing methods.
Quality Assurance International, an NSF company, is here to help clients understand what to expect and how to prepare.