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Build Your Business with Organic

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Build Your Business with Organic
by Jane Wade, California Certified Organic Farmers Senior Applicant Specialist

Have you ever been asked to make organic products? During these uncertain times, it can be hard to envision change, but this might be the perfect time to consider adding organic products to your line. With the expanding consumer demand for organic products, brand owners are looking for co-packers to make their products, and retailers are looking for organic versions of existing products. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations are not as complicated as they may seem. If you have a HAACP plan, SSOP, allergen control plan or another traceability system, you already have the structure you need to handle organic products. To make organic products in a facility where you currently make non-organic products, the basic requirement is that there is no commingling or cross-contamination between organic and conventional products. Most businesses do not need separate equipment or sites to handle organic products. You can use your existing processing lines and facilities by cleaning between runs to avoid contamination or commingling of organic and non-organic products. This may be as simple as running organic products first thing in the morning or on a designated day of the week.

Getting certified is straightforward. When you complete your application, called an Organic System Plan (OSP), you’ll provide information about the organic products you want to make, the facility you will use, how separation will be achieved between the two product types and the recordkeeping system you use to provide traceability. The bottom line is, while the regulations are the same for everyone, every operation is different so you will meet the requirements in your own way.

The certification process usually takes about 12 weeks from the time you submit a completed application. (If you are in a hurry, California Certified Organic Farmers CCOF (CCOF) has an Expedited Certification Service that can reduce this time significantly.) Once an initial review is completed by a certification specialist, an inspector will be assigned. The initial inspection happens about half-way through the twelve-week process. Certification is granted after the inspection report is reviewed and finalized. Certifications are renewed annually, and facilities are inspected each year to ensure continuing compliance.

CCOF certification is competitively priced to provide superior value and allow businesses to easily enter the organic marketplace. Certification costs consist of an initial one-time application fee, the cost of inspection and an annual certification fee.

For full information about the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards, you can download the NOP Manual from the CCOF website. If you would like more information about how organic certification would work in your facility, the applicant support team at CCOF would be happy to answer any questions you have. You can reach us at or (831) 423-2263, ext. 1.


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