Brand owners, marketers, and brokers

#Understanding certification

Do I need certification as a brand owner?

Only operations that physically manufacture, process, package/re-pack, or label/re-label organic products are required to obtain organic certification. If you contract someone else to produce organic products for you and only sell the finished packaged and labeled product, you — a brand owner — do not require certification. Your co-packer or custom manufacturer is required to be certified.

Can I sell certified organic products without certification?

As a brand owner, your co-packer — e.g., the operation producing, packaging, and labeling the products — is able to list your products on their certificate as a certified organic operation. You will be permitted to sell listed products in accordance with the applicable labeling requirements.

Do I need certification as a broker or trader?

As an operation that buys and sells goods, you may also occasionally take physical possession of products or simply facilitate the movement of the products. As with a brand owner, you are not required to be certified with the exception of livestock brokers, who are required to be certified.

Even if certification is not required, you may choose to get certified to be competitive or protect supply chain information.

Why would I choose to get certified?

Even if certification is not required, you may choose to get certified to:

  • Use one certifier on labels. Certification allows you to work with multiple facilities with different certifiers and label your product with your own single label and certifier designation (pending review and approval).
  • Have ownership of an organic certificate. In addition to direct engagement with the certifier — not going through your co-packer for approvals of labels, formulations, etc.— you will have direct oversight of your organic supply chain, not through a third-party co-packer. Your co-packer’s certifier will still need to review records and documentation, but it has been vetted and approved — the result is a more efficient process.

#Using a co-packer

What is a co-packer?

A co-packer — also known as a co-manufacturer — processes products for different companies based on individual specifications and can vary in size and scope. Co-packers provide services such as ingredient sourcing, packaging, labeling, manufacturing, product development and distribution.

If I use a co-packer, do I need to be certified?

If you contract someone else to produce organic products for you and only sell the finished packaged and labeled product, you do not require certification. Your co-packer or custom manufacturer is required to be certified.

Do I need to list my co-packer on my label?

The label for your certified organic products needs to identify the handler and the certifier on the ingredient panel. If you are not certified, this means you will need to list your co-packer and your co-packer’s certifier on your label.

If you are certified and your label states “Certified organic by Oregon Tilth” below your handler information — and the handler (i.e. the co-packer you are working with) is not certified by OTCO — you will need a Private Label Agreement.

Please note that as an uncertified brand owner, even if your label says “Certified organic by Oregon Tilth,” that does not mean you are certified, or that you can take your product to a separate co-packer and use the same label without submitting labels to their certifier for compliance.

Forms & Documents

Download the above and submit it to your client service team.

What if my co-packer will not list my products on their organic certificate?

Your co-packer is not required to list your products on their certificate. If your products are not listed on the co-packers’ organic certificate, you can not sell the products as organic.

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