December 28, 2017
Organic standards inconsistency and labeling issues are "major pitfalls" for companies entering the Chinese organic market, attendees heard at the inaugural Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit according to host Ecovia Intelligence.
The event in Singapore brought together about 100 senior executives and representatives of the regional food industry. In the opening presentation, Ecovia Founder and President Amarjit Sahota described how Asia had become a leading producer of organic foods, yet lagged in consumption behind Europe and North America, despite "having some of the most affluent consumers."
Tan Jian from Organic Food Development & Certification Center (OFDC) of China said dairy was one of the fastest growing sectors of the Chinese organic food market.
"One speaker called into question the role of certification, since the region has a large and disparate number of organic standards," Ecovia said.
One of the event's "liveliest and inspiring seminars" was presented by Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests.
Ecovia said the small Himalayan country is "often cited as the ‘poster child’ of sustainability; it is one of the leading advocates of organic farming, a major producer of clean energy and is carbon positive."
But Bhutan "faces many challenges when combining sustainable farming and environmental stewardship because of its mountainous terrain," according to Dorji, Ecovia said. The minister also said all government projects "are screened partly on Gross National Happiness to see how they contribute to health and mental well-being."
Also at the event "there was a call to raise adoption rates of organic agriculture, sustainable seafood, green packaging, and consumption of organic and health foods," Ecovia said, adding that many questions were raised about sustainable development.
"As incomes and spending power rise, how can Asian consumers be encouraged to spend more on organic and sustainable foods? What can be done to raise adoption rates of plant-based proteins and dairy alternatives? How can sustainable packaging be encouraged? How can awareness of environmental issues like deforestation, ocean pollution, and climate change be translated into ethical purchases? How can governments be encouraged to intertwine environmental/sustainable development with economic development?" summed up Ecovia, saying the questions will be addressed at the next Asia-Pacific Sustainable Foods Summit, slated for Sept. 4-5.