Brussels

Just came from a meeting in Brussels July 19 2009

The reason? A jury of 4 people from the organic sector and 4 people who are designers foregathered to consider 1000 or so submissions for the new EU logo for organic food. (The 9th juror was Miguel Indurain the winner for the Tour de France 5 years running from 1991 to 1995)

The old logo was not widely adopted. Most countries and regions already had a national logo so didn’t change to it. However, the EU Commission, during the negotiations for the revised organic regulations, decided to make it mandatory, displayed as well as existing marks of organic certification. From 2010 all organic packaging will be required to have it added on the label somewhere as a second reassurance that the product complies with the EU standard for organic food.

So we foregather, we 9 jurors, to consider designs submitted by art students for a logo to encompass all the products of this €22 billion industry. The brief was challenging: no words such as ‘bio’ or ‘organic’ – should show Europe in some way (most likely an artistic letter ‘e’ or a circlet of stars) – should be memorable. We turn a long list into a short list and then rank the logos. There are a lot of very clever designs, some rather trite, many that were not a logo – more a brand or a ‘storyboard.’ In the end we jurors settled on a ranked top 10.

Next step? Fix them up with refinements of the designs, then post them on the internet and let the public vote for them.

The organic movement and market has gotten so big that Directorate General Agri, the EU Commission’s agriculture executive, seem to need to move from a bystander role to more central control. Requiring food products to bear the new mark will help imprint its authority on the rapidly growing organic market.

I met Elisabeth Mercier, the head of L’Agence Bio, the French multisector quango that is now promoting organic food and farming in France. Her organisation has brought order out of organised chaos in the French organic movement and marketplace. L’Agence Bio’s profile has strong resonances with the Soil Association’s role in the world of UK organic food and farming. France is showing rapid growth in organic farmiong, , helped by the way L’Agence Bio has brought together all the stakeholders for gatherings of mutual interest and benefit. We talked about the FFL Partnership, how independent schools will give it extra weight, how effective it is at creating the infrastructure that can underpin local food economies.

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