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More than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28 percent buy organic products weekly.

USDA-accredited companies certified over 27,000 producers and handlers worldwide to the U.S. organic standard, with approximately 16,000 in the United States.

Products can be called organic if certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

For processed, multi-ingredient foods, regulations prohibit artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions.

  • United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program Regulation (7 CFR 205)
  • Canadian Organic Product Regulation (SOR/2006-338 COPR)
  • European Union (EU) Council Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007 and Commission Regulations (EC) No. 889/2008 and 1235/2008
  • Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) for Organic Plants (Notification No. 1605 of 2005) and the JAS for Organic Processed Foods (Notification No. 1606 of 2005)
  • Republic of Korea Act on Promotion of Environmentally-Friendly Agriculture and Fisheries and Management of and Support for Organic Food, and its implementing regulations for processed foods.

It is not enough just to have your cocoa or coffee beans ‘naturally grown’ and pesticide-free to achieve organic-certified status. In order for a company to market cocoa beans as ‘organic’, it must comply with legislations, which include regulations for production, processing and trade.

Before you can market your cocoa beans as organic, an accredited certifier must audit your growing and processing facilities. After being audited and receiving an organic certificate, you can use the European Union (EU) logo or USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Organic Seal on your products.

Certifiers are responsible for making sure that USDA organic products meet all organic standards. There are five basic steps to organic certification:

The farm or business adopts organic practices, selects a USDA-accredited certifying agent, and submits an application and fees to the certifying agent.

The certifying agent reviews the application to verify that practices comply with USDA organic regulations.

An inspector conducts an on-site inspection of the applicant’s operation.

The certifying agent reviews the application and the inspector’s report to determine if the applicant complies with the USDA organic regulations.

The certifying agent issues organic certificate.

To maintain organic certification, your certified organic farm or business will go through an annual review and inspection process. If your operation is not located in the U.S, see the USDA’s International Trade page to learn about your options for organic certification.


Organic’s reputation of being better for you and the planet, positioned it for dramatic growth.

Almost 6 percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic, and U.S. organic sales soared to new high of nearly $62 billion.

All organic products imported into the EU must have the appropriate electronic Certificate of Inspection (COI). These COIs must be issued by control body prior to the departure of a shipment. If this is not done, your product cannot be sold as organic in the European Union and will be sold as a conventional product. You can obtain COIs by using the European Commission’s electronic Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).