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Private organic labels - what you need to know

Posted by Laura Heisch on 03/11/2016


We have presented you with the EU organic certificate and the associated organic seal, which regulates and characterizes the production and distribution of organic products throughout the EU. There are numerous standards for private eco-farming associations. In all cases, these standards must comply with the legal EU organic regulation in addition to their own, often more stringent standards.

To help you keep track of the different organic labels, we have compiled the three largest and most important associations and their seals:


The German demeter association is one of the oldest organic farming associations for biodynamic agriculture. As early as 1927, the first quality guidelines for biologically dynamic agriculture were formulated and date back to the anthroposophical principles of Rudolf Steiner and sees the agricultural enterprise as an "individual, self-contained organism".

Since 1992, demeter has become the first organic farming association to have comprehensive international guidelines for the production and processing of organic food. Demeter International e.V. was founded in 1997 as a federation of 19 independent Demeter organizations worldwide. All continents are represented and the association distributes more than 3,500 food, cosmetics and fashion items under the same brand.

The seal in comparison to EU organic certification:
The demeter seal marks agricultural products from biodynamic agriculture. The standard for certification covers the requirements for the award of the EU organic seal but is much more stringent in many areas. For example, Demeter guidelines stipulate that cattle must have horns, which is not a requirement for the EU organic certificate. Demeter also requires the total operating facility to be a bio-dynamic production, in contrast to the EU organic regulation, which permits a partial conversion. Only selected and regularly controlled association partners may carry the demeter logo.

More information on the Website of the international demeter association.


The German association Naturland - for organic farming was established in 1982. Naturland controls its products according to "fair progressive ecological processes" and has steadily expanded its comprehensive guidelines for the production and processing of agricultural products, aquaculture, beekeeping, forestry, cosmetics and textiles. In 2010, Naturland founded the Association for Ecological Practice Research in collaboration with Bioland the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture and the Foundation for Ecology and Agriculture.

Since 1986, the Naturland brand has also been active internationally.  Some 38,000 farms in more than 44 countries have more than 320,000 hectares of land under the Naturland guidelines. In 2015, more than 4,000 tonnes of tea were certified according to Naturland guidelines in Sri Lanka alone.

In addition to its eco-certification, since 2010, Naturland has been awarding “Fair certification” scrutinizing Social standards as well as monitoring ecological production of raw materials and food products.

The guidelines compared to EU organic certification:
As with most private associations, the Naturland guidelines are much more stringent than the EU Eco Certificate. For example, Naturland, as well as demeter, prescribes an integrated conversion of the farm to ecological management and production, and only allows a positive list of 22 food additives (EU organic regulation: 49 substances). As the only private association, Naturland also requires the outside to meet their ecological management requirements.

More information on the Website of the Naturland Association.


Bioland e.V. is a federation for ecological cultivation in Germany founded in 1971 with more than 6200 member companies. The association wants to create an "ecologically, economically and socially acceptable alternative" to conventional agriculture. The guidelines of Bioland are based on the "7 principles for the agriculture of the future", in which the cycle economy forms the basic principle of organic farming.

Bioland has detailed guidelines for the production and processing of food in almost all areas, which are divided into product groups such as bread & bakery products or meat products.

The guidelines compared to EU organic certification:
The guidelines of the association take up existing legal requirements of the EU eco-regulation and further restrict those or are controlled more thoroughly. For example, the requirements for the number of animals per square meter are much more stringent than in the EU regulation and the positive list of food additives is restricted to 24 substances (EU organic regulation 49).

More information on the Website of the Bioland Association.

Further information

  • Bioland, Demeter and Naturland are members of the Federation of Organic Food Industries (BÖLW). BÖLW is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and co-ordinates the German-speaking members.
  • The differences between these associations compared to the EU eco-regulation are particularly large, even if there are a few overlaps within the directives. All of the requirements of private standards are much more stringent or more specific than the EU eco-directives. Here is an overview of the EU organic regulation, Demeter, Naturland and BIoland in comparison (PDF in german).
  • Other private standards are: Gäa - organic farming and Ecoland or the international fairtrade seal.

In the case of manufacturers which produce or distribute organic products, several certification certificates are generally required for the purchased raw materials. Every EU company must compulsorily obtain the EU organic certificate, plus, where appropriate, further evidence from private eco-associations if it wants to label its products as organic. We are happy to assist you with the efficient collection and administration of all the documents you need for your organic certification from your suppliers. Just make an appointment:

Click HERE to register for a free online-demonstration

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