The social enterprise EtnoGastronomica organized an information seminar in Chisinau in order to clarify the concept of ecologic food products and reduce the number of erroneous materials on the subject in the media. This is a very important topic, since eco products are a new and attractive term, and the information presented in a distorted form can confuse customers.
What is an eco product and how to distinguish it
Ecological products can be called differently: organic, eco, bio, but they all mean the same thing: a product produced in accordance with the law, without the use of chemicals, without genetic modifications, grown in harmony with nature and the environment and certified by an authorized body.
On the other hand, the term "natural" or "100% natural" on the product label is only a marketing strategy and does not guarantee the fact that this product is environmentally friendly. Legislation does not provide this labeling and the product with the inscription "natural" may well contain food additives, dyes and. etc. The same applies to the terms "traditional product" or "healthy product".
Also, in many online stores, social networks or even in supermarkets, products or even brands use the word “bio” or “eco” in their name, although they are not certified.
In such cases, manufacturers should be fined, because, according to Moldovan law: “Terms are not used, including those used in trademarks or in the process of labeling or promotion, which can mislead a consumer or user or suggest that this product or its ingredients comply with the requirements of these Technical regulations for ecological products.”
The use of national logo and certification
The main condition for the producers of eco products is the availability of a certificate issued by an accredited organization. In this case, each producer receives a code of the certification body, which he can indicate on the product packaging. Also, the label “Agricultura Ecologică - Republica Moldova” may be applied on the label of eco products certified in accordance with national legislation, while for the products imported from the EU - the European brand for ecological agriculture.
However, on the local market, out of approximately 100 certified eco-producers, only three use the logo “Agricultura Ecologică - Republica Moldova” on the packaging. This can be explained by the fact that most certified producers are engaged in the cultivation of cereals and perennial crops (nuts, hazelnuts, almonds) and sell their products in bulk. Most of them are exported and do not require this logo, but their products must be accompanied by an appropriate certificate. The logo “Agricultura Ecologică - Republica Moldova” is used by producers who enter the market with a packaged, final product, and those who have already entered the retail chains. Other producers simply do not apply for this logo, because it is a long and complex process, requiring the convening of a special commission under the Ministry of Agriculture. In the case of certain commercial relationships, these manufacturers use the certification authority code, which already ensures that their products are environmentally friendly. Note that the presence of this certificate allows manufacturers to use the terms eco, bio or organic in their brand names or products.
The terms eco, bio or organic cannot be used by producers who are in the period of conversion to ecological agriculture.
An example of the misuse of the term “ecological product” is the Kaufland supermarket chain, which recently opened in Chisinau.
As you can see in this photo, the banner says "Fructe, legume ecologice", but in fact none of these products are certified. Chisinau supermarkets have never sold and cannot sell eco-products in this form, without packaging. If eco products are on sale, they are packaged and labeled accordingly. In conclusion, we can say that this banner was created to attract customers.
Where can I find information on environmental producers
On the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture, people can learn important information on national and international legislation related to this topic, find out which certification bodies exist in Moldova and which local producers are certified. Also, information on producers of eco products is usually displayed on the sites of certification bodies.