Eating organic has become a trend that’s here to stay in the food industry worldwide and even in Singapore. However, as most of these organic products are not heavily regulated or monitored by governments, trying to buy ‘organic’ has become a tricky and confusing situation.
That’s why it is so important for retailers to be transparent and educate their consumers on the definitions and benefits of going organic.
Get to Know What Being Organic Really Means
Even from the get go, the definition of ‘organic’ is confusing to most. Other similar terms like ‘natural’ and ‘free range’ may sound almost the same, but there are strict differences between all of them that the regular consumer may not be aware of.
Being an organic product means that the product is farmed and produced without the use of any chemicals or synthetic fertilizers.
Compared to this, a ‘natural’ product is one that is made with natural ingredients from naturally occurring sources, that are minimally processed or not altered chemically. Therefore, categorising a product as organic is definitely one step up the hierarchy of healthy foods and products.
Guidelines stated by the Codex Commission (CODEX) are often used as a global blueprint for organic standards, covering the growing, storing, processing, packaging and shipping of food. This includes:
- The avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives), irradiation and the use of sewage sludge;
- The avoidance of genetically modified seeds;
- The use of farmland that has been free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years (often three or more);
- for livestock, adhering to specific requirements for feed, housing, and breeding;
- the keeping of detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
- the maintaining of strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
- undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
Organic Product Labelling in Singapore
In Singapore, there is no national definition or standards about organic food. The Singapore Food Agency (previously the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore) states that food products labelled as ‘organic’ must be certified as organic under the UN CODEX guidelines for production, processing, labelling and marketing of organically-produced foods.
Businesses that sell organic products in Singapore must have valid proof that their supplier has provided organic products that have been organically produced in the form of an organic certification. As this organic certification is obtained from overseas organic associations and we do not have an authentication body for organic food in Singapore, it is up to the retailers and consumers to verify the authenticity of the products.
In this case, as consumers, we often accept the guidelines in good faith, hoping that suppliers and retailers do their due diligence to ensure that organic products are rightly labelled as ‘organic’ with the proper certification.
Beware of Greenwashing ‘Organic’ Products
Therefore, with the lack of guidelines for the sale of organic products, consumers have to beware of companies which may use green marketing practices to mislead or confuse its users.
For example, some companies or brands may:
- Label their products with organic wording even if their products aren't organic
- Use terms on their packaging that people often confuse with ‘organic’, such as ‘natural’ or ‘free-range’
- Try to confuse you by designing packaging that resembles organic packaging
In addition, when a company uses eco-friendly or organic terms on their packaging of non-organic products, it is called "greenwashing." This process has become more widespread and can really mislead consumers about organic products.
Tips on Buying Truly Organic Products in Singapore
As a consumer, it is still best to be updated and educated about organic products that you use in Singapore. Here are some tips that can help you be an informed customer:
Look out for certified organic labels on products
This is the only way to verify that you are buying truly organic products. They are often certified in overseas countries like Australia (NASAA), New Zealand and USA (USDA organic label). Do check the reputation of the organic certifying body and the specific certification number that your supplier or retailer has.
Also, being able to read any food labels is a must-have skill if you want to eat healthily. Learn about the names of specific ingredients that you need to look out for or beware of and understand the benefits and disadvantages of these ingredients.
Buy from reputable companies
Seek out organic products from reputable companies that are established in selling organic products. Many companies have been selling organic products for decades and have built up a trusted reputation with their customers. They are likely selling organic products from credible and reliable suppliers.
Talk to the staff to know more about the organic products
You can get to know more about the organic products that you are buying from the staff of these companies. The staff should be knowledgeable about the products that they are selling and educate you about them.
Unfortunately, it is likely that smaller retailers and suppliers may be organic, but not have organic certifications, thus it is important to talk to the companies that you are buying from to know more about their products.
Learn more about the products/suppliers that you are buying from
Some international organic brands have been around for many years and have developed their recognisable global brand. Get to know more about these global organic brands from their website - how exactly they are organic, how they farm their products and what goes into their products.
Beware of greenwashed organic products that are not truly organic
Watch out for products that are packaged as organic or have misleading labels that confuse you. You can talk to the staff, do more research on the brand and look for reviews to know more. If in doubt, always look for the organic certification to verify the authenticity of an organic product.
Nature’s Glory Singapore Sells Truly Certified Organic Products
Nature’s Glory is one of the top companies selling organic products in Singapore. Since 1991, we have been a pioneer in the organic movement by offering authentic organic products to health conscious consumers in Singapore. We were also one of the first few retailers to be certified in 2008.
Independently certified by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) at Australian and international standards, we are a NASAA Certified Organic (NCO) operator under the registration number 8131P in Singapore.
Not only are we certified to confirm the source of our supply is produced without chemicals, ethically, sustainably, earth friendly, but the whole process is highly audited from farm to finished product, storage and delivery to be chemical-free.
In addition, we also carry out our own in-house radiation checks and tests for pesticide residue, heavy metals, microbes for our products before even putting the organic products on our shelves.
If you want to be assured of the authenticity of organic products in Singapore, you should shop with us via our online grocery store.