Many different types of products are eligible for organic certification, although some products do have more stringent certifying criteria than others. That said, individuals looking to break into the organic industry have plenty of product choices to choose from. Even better, most product sectors of the organic industry continue to grow. Consumers really do want organic products.
If you're interested in the National Organic Program (NOP) USDA organic certification process in general, read the following:
Almost all foods and beverages, with few exceptions can be certified organic. Additionally, organic certification guidelines for food are well laid out, so it's easier to deal with organic food and beverage certification than it is to deal with other certifications. Good news; especially since organic food sales are growing at an impressive rate.
Food and beverages that can be certified organic include whole fresh produce, alcohol, coffee, tea, edible flowers, wild crops, grains, meat and more. Processors and handlers may also manufacture organic food items, for example pizza or jam.
Flowers and plants are becoming a popular category of organic goods. Green weddings and other eco-friendly events are on the rise and people want fresh organic cut flowers. Additionally, plant starts for home gardens and other landscapes are gaining in popularity.
Herbs, flowering bulbs, cut flowers, plant starts and trees all fall under this category. Sometimes this organic category mingles with the food or garden category. For example, organic edible flowers and wheatgrass are becoming more commonplace.
NOP has specific criteria for agricultural products in place, so certification for flowers and plants is cut and dry.
Example organic flower and plant companies:
Organic restaurants are a growing category in the organic industry. On the up side, since organic food is continually gaining in popularity, there's some nice opportunity for growth in the organic restaurant sector. In fact, a recent consumer survey shows that consumers are willing to pay more for organic and eco-friendly dining.
On the flip side though, organic restaurant owners may face challenges due to costs and the inconsistency of the organic restaurant certification process.
Learn more about organic restaurants:
- Challenges of running an organic restaurant
- Do restaurants need to be certified to serve organic food?
Examples of organic restaurants:
Organic textiles, including natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, flax and other fiber materials can be used to make countless products, such as clothing, bedding, toys, furniture and much more.
There are few organic textile processing and manufacturing standards in place. You'll have to speak with your personal accredited certifying agent to get all the fine details. Keep in mind that NOP standards apply to organic fibers, not off-farm treatment of raw organic fibers or the end products made with organic fibers.
Organic textile companies:
Organic baby toys in particular, are becoming very popular as parents and parents-to-be worry more about the chemicals their children are exposed to. Most organic toys fall under the soft toy category and are made with certified organic materials such as cotton and wool.
There's also been some expansion into organic crafty toys, such as play dough and paints, but while some of these products use certified organic materials, few craft/toy companies seem to be getting officially certified, and it's no wonder without clear certification standards in place. For toy companies, the best course of action is to discuss certification with a local accredited certifying agent.
Examples of organic toy companies:
Organic body care is eligible for organic certification, although few companies go through the trouble. That's too bad, because consumers do want organic body care. Plus, due to loose organic body care regulations, many organic advocates are singling out companies that are falsely labeling products as organic. For example:
- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently filed a lawsuit against companies who make fake organic claims.
- Organic advocates have been pushing to pass the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.
- Whole Foods, and other retail outlets are demanding that organic personal care products come clean.
- Why certify organic personal care products if you don't have to?
- Consumers trust organic label not 'natural' label
Many cosmetics, in order to work correctly, contain ingredients that are on the "do not use" section of The National List, so they don't qualify for organic certification. Some cosmetic companies toss around terms like 'organic,' without certification to back it up.
The above said, real USDA organic certification for some types of cosmetics is possible. Although many cosmetics only qualify for "made with organic ingredient" status, official certification certainly is important to organic advocates.
Cosmetic who make cosmetics with certified organic ingredients:
8. Seeds & Gardening Supplies
Seeds and many other garden supplies are eligible for organic certification and opportunities for business in this sector abound. There are farms, home gardens, community gardens, school gardens, landscaping businesses and more that need organic seeds and gardening goods.
Various products that qualify for USDA organic certification include trees; bulbs; plant starts for flowers, vegetable and herb gardens; seeds; weed killer; and fertilizers that are approved on The National List. The certification process for most gardening supplies and seeds is straight forward.
9. Pet Food & Pet Products
Research shows that the organic pet food sector is growing 12% to 15% annually. On top of that, organic pet products such as organic pet toys and pet beds are cropping up.
The American Pet Products Association estimates that U.S. pet owners pamper their pets, spending $50.84 billion on pets annually. So, organic pet goods is an area that should be seeing more growth.
Organic pet food requirements, composition-wise, is similar to requirements for livestock, while label claims match the requirements for human food. See the Organic Pet Food Task Force formal organic pet food recommendations (pdf) to learn more.
Companies making certified organic pet products: