5th IFOAM International Conference on
Trade in Organic Products
Conference Programme
IFOAM homepage


The 5th IFOAM International Conference on Trade in Organic Products
The Future Agenda for Organic Trade
The world's most important food trade conference in 1997
Christ Church College, Oxford, England
Wednesday 24th - 27th September 1997

sponsored by HIPP - the largest organic producer in the world, and leading UK supermarket Sainsbury's Sales of organic food in some European countries are likely to overtake sales of conventional food within 10-15 years, and markets for organic food worldwide continue to grow rapidly. There are enormous opportunities and challenges for everyone involved in this dynamic sector. What are they and who is best placed to take advantage of them?

Meanwhile, the social agenda is looming on the mainstream business horizon. With the organic sector committed to developing social standards, what are the implications for traders? Will the fair trade and organic sectors converge? What is the future agenda for organic trade?

  • Current markets, future trends and opportunities
  • The model for sustainable world trade
  • Setting global standards
  • Fair trade - integrating the social agenda
  • Food quality and security issues
  • Organic products trade fair


Wednesday 24th September

10.00 Registration (until 14.30)
14.30 Coffee
15.00 Welcome Hervé La Prairie, IFOAM President, France
15.05 Video messages of support HRH The Prince of Wales Franz Fischler, European Commissioner for Agriculture
15.15 Conference Chairman's Introduction Patrick Holden, Director, The Soil Association, UK

Government's Role in Developing Organic Trade
Senior ministers from three countries outline how their current and future policies will help develop sustainable agriculture, providing the basis for lasting environmental and social change
15.25 The Future for Organic Farming in the UK The Rt Hon Dr Jack Cunningham MP, Minister of Agriculture, UK
15.45 Successful Sustainable Development with Government Support Susana Merlo, Vice Secretary of Food and Markets, Argentina
16.05 Making Growth in Organic Trade a Priority Willi Molterer, Minister of Agriculture, Austria

A Trading Perspective
Traders now have a selection of organic products from over 100 countries worldwide. What are the needs from a trading perspective as we move into the next millennium?
16.25 World Trade in Organic Foods: A Growing Reality Peter Segger, Managing Director, Organic Farm Foods, UK Helmy Aboul Eisch, Seken Project, Egypt
16.45 Panel Discussion: Questions from the audience to the afternoon's speakers.
17.30 Welcome Reception An opportunity for delegates to meet each other over organic drinks and canapés. For Residents only
20.00 Dinner in Christ Church's Tudor Hall

Thursday 25th September

Current Markets & Future Trends
With rapid growth in the organic sector and multinationals starting to market organic products, what does the future hold and what are the implications for both existing traders and those entering the marketplace? How will companies manage the problems and opportunities that will arise? How can they ensure supplies of raw materials?
09.30 Chairman's introduction Mark Retzloff, President, Organic Trade Assoc., USA
09.35 Organic Trade: The Potential for Growth What is driving growth and where do the opportunities lie? What are the likely trends that will shape the future and who will be the key players in an expanded market? Professor Ulrich Hamm, Organic Market Analyst, Germany
09.55 The Multinational Perspective: Entering the Marketplace Multinationals are starting to market organic products and are investigating the organic sector for further growth. Do they perceive organic food as a speciality area or as the mainstream of the future? What is the view from the boardroom? Nestlé, Switzerland (i)
10.15 Managing Growth: Harnessing Opportunities and Coping with Problems Rapid growth and the influx of larger companies into the marketplace could present both problems and opportunities to current organic traders. How can they cope with these new challenges and ensure supplies of raw materials? Carl Haest, Organic Consultant, Belgium
10.35 Panel Discussion Questions from the audience to the morning's speakers.
11.00 Coffee
11.30 Workshops Expanding Organic Trade: Exploring the different sectors, drawing on the experience of key traders.
* Retailing * Processed Foods
* Produce * Livestock/Dairy
* Commodity Trading
13.00 Lunch

The Model for Sustainable World Trade?
Compatibility of standards is increasingly essential as world trade in organic products increases. Organic trade is unique as part of the sustainable development agenda - it has similar standards accepted by governments in most countries. Is it the model for sustainable world trade? Will Codex provide the answer to compatibility and is accreditation necessary?
14.30 Chairman's Introduction Brennan van Dyke, Geneva Director, Centre for International Environmental Law, Switzerland
14.35 World Trade & Sustainable Development With the WTO unlocking the door to global free trade, could organic food be a blueprint for reconciling the apparent incompatibilities of trade liberalisation and environmental protection? Gary Sampson, Director of Trade & Environment, World Trade Organisation, Australia
14.55 CODEX: Setting Global Standards Can CODEX develop and maintain a global standard, or will it simply define the lowest common denominator? Can the EU and US agree on their differences and provide the basis for defining the initial standard? John Byng, Head of Organic Farming Unit, MAFF, UK
15.15 Accreditation: The Key to Making Global Standards Work? Good standards need effective policing. As global trade expands, it becomes even more imperative that standards and certification procedures are seen to be monitored. Can IFOAM's accreditation programme provide an answer? Gunnar Rundgren, International Organic Accreditation Services, Sweden
15.35 Panel Discussion Questions from the audience to the afternoon's speakers.
16.00 Tea New Frontiers for Organic Trade
16.30 Workshops: Exploring the new sectors developing in organic trade, which will increase the profile of organic products to the consumer, and the issues and standards involved Fabrics * Forestry * Fish * Flowers * Bodycare For Residents only
20.00 Dinner in Christ Church's Tudor Hall

Friday 26th September

Integrating the Social Agenda
A commitment was made at the last IFOAM conference in Copenhagen to develop social standards to complement the organic sector's agricultural and processing standards. This session examines current socially responsible business and ways to implement standards. Case studies will demonstrate the feasibility of these concepts and the benefits to business.
09.30 Chairman's Introduction Prof Hartmut Vogtmann, Hon. President, IFOAM
09.35 Organic & Fair Trade: The Need for Integration Companies of all sizes are starting to examine the likely future importance of satisfied stakeholders, social audits and fair trade. Meanwhile, a twin-track market is developing in the organic and fair trade markets. Can organic trade exist without social standards, and can fair trade include the use of pesticides? Is it now time for these largely separate sectors to come together? Jonathon Porritt, Director, Forum for the Future, UK
09.55 Fair Trade: How does it work? For many consumers, fair trade means giving third world farmers a better price for their products. What does it really mean, what are the current standards and how are they controlled? What is the future fair trade agenda? Dieter Overath, Chief Executive, Transfair, Germany
10.15 Integrating the Social Agenda: Benefits to Business Some companies are already integrating inspection and certification for both agricultural and social standards. This can result in cost savings and marketing benefits. What are the real benefits to business? Craig Sams, Green & Blacks, UK
10.35 Balancing Local & Global Needs The new organic agenda presents a potential solution to the problems facing agriculture in developing countries. What measures can be taken to achieve sustainable growth at both the local and global level? Ali Arslan Gurkan, Senior Commodity Specialist, Commodities and Trade Division, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Italy
11.00 Coffee
11.30 Case Studies Widely differing organic projects around the world demonstrate that it is possible to integrate the social agenda and generate substantial benefits to business. * Europe * America * Australasia * Asia * Africa
12.35 Panel Discussion Questions from the audience to the morning's speakers.
13.00 Lunch
14.30 Organic Products Trade Fair International organic traders, producers and NGOs display their products and services. See registration form for full details.
19.30 IFOAM Silver Jubilee Dinner A special celebration with entertainments and awards

Saturday 27th September

Marketing Food Quality
Industrial agriculture and food processing have degraded the overall quality of the food we eat. New studies show that some conventional foods are deficient in nutrients. Can organically grown food demonstrate superior food quality? And with genetically modified foods posing a threat to human health and world food security, what are the future issues and how should companies be marketing their organic products?
10.00 Chairman's Introduction Bernward Geier, Executive Director, IFOAM
10.05 Marketing the Nutritional Benefits Nutritional deficiencies are appearing in populations raised on crops from the Green Revolution, and other new studies show the superior quality of organically grown foods. What are the real facts and how can they be used to assist the growth of organic trade? Professor Willie Lockeretz, School of Nutrition, Tufts University, USA
10.25 Genetically Modified Foods: Threat or Opportunity? The prospect of a small number of multinationals controlling the types of seeds we use to grow key food crops is frightening. What are the implications of GM foods for human health, and what will happen when a new disease or other disaster strikes a major food crop composed of a single variety of plant? Can organic trade benefit from this threat to world food security? Sue Mayer, Consultant, UK
10.45 Food Quality: The Future Agenda Organic food means quality food, but how do we really define food quality? Do certain kinds of processing invalidate organic products? How do issues beyond the farm gate affect quality? What will be the standards for food quality in the future and how can they be used to develop organic trade? Urs Niggli, FIBL Institute, Switzerland
11.05 Panel Discussion Questions from the audience to the morning's speakers
11.30 Coffee
12.00 Conference Chairman's Closing Address Patrick Holden, Director, The Soil Association, UK Followed by conference declaration
13.00 Lunch
14.30 Conference Ends


Contact Tanyia Maxted-Frost at the IFOAM Conference Office for a registration form on 01903 812200, by fax on 01903 879052 or by email at ifoamconf@naturalproducts.co.uk.

The conference will be based in the historic Christ Church College in Oxford. Accommodation is in the college's simple but historic student rooms or in nearby Oxford hotels. All refreshments will be organic - organic meals will be served in the college's magnificent Tudor Hall, the largest in Oxford, with its notable stained glass, hammerbeam roof and portrait collection. Conference proceedings will take place in the Oxford Town Hall, another splendid building situated next to the college. In addition to the 500 seat galleried main hall, delegates will also use the Council Chamber and the Old Court Room for workshops and meetings during the programme. Come and experience the tradition of the world's oldest university and debate the future for trade in organic products in these fascinating and historic surroundings.