ESA project: the Organic Plausibility Checker

ESA project: the Organic Plausibility Checker

Organic markets are growing all over the world – and along with this growth, the frequency of organic food fraud increases. Satellite-based technologies can play an important role to counteract this. The farm to fork approach of this project is based on two components: on satellite data and on supply chain data. The feasibility study will identify appropriate satellite data collection indicators by asking how they can best replace, amend, and complement surveillance and inspection of certified operations. It will further study how to best integrate with Check Organic’s supply chain mass balance system for proof of field, crop, and yield data. Thus, it will answer to ESA’s call on how the integration of satellite and supply chain mass balance data will result in preventing fraud. The aim of the project partners is to develop the concept of an "Organic Plausibility Checker", which as a ‘third eye’ could offer new possibilities for monitoring the organic sector. The plausibility checker shall facilitate the work of inspectors and certifiers by reducing or replacing certain on-site activities, to ease the documentation burden of producers and producer groups, and to improve fraud prevention and integrity through accurate data

DIGICHECK: Improving organic control systems

Within the DIGICHECK project, we from Organic Services will develop recommendations on how to improve the organic control and certification system, in particular through the integration of certification and product transaction data, geographic information systems, and suitable methods of the Internet of Things (IoT). We are very pleased to carry out the project in collaboration with Thünen Institute of Farm Economics, Bohlsener Mühle, KIWA/BCS, Abaco, Assoziation ökologischer Lebensmittelhersteller e.V. (AÖL), Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI), and Intact. Find more details on the projects on the organic eprints website and in our news article.


The shorter the better – this is a common conclusion when it comes to the integrity and crisis resilience of food supply chains. The 3-year long EU-funded Horizon2020 project SMARTCHAIN has introduced new robust business models and innovative practical solutions that allow short food supply chains (SFSCs) to be realised at a larger scale in an economically feasible, sustainable and environment-friendly way. A wide range of policymakers, practitioners and researchers from 11 EU countries were involved, analysing and developing the potential of SFSCs to create a shift in the way we grow, distribute, and consume food, responding to the needs of farmers, food producers and consumers. Tailor-made solutions were developed for 18 short supply chain case studies which hence serve as blueprints for other short food supply chains. Based on the findings, a booklet was compliled, providing insights and recommendations to support collobarative short food supply chains.

With our expertise in integrity solutions in the field of certification and accreditation, we from Organic Services introduced Check Organic and Group Integrity as well as the overall concept of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) to the SMARTCHAIN Innovation Inventory. For PGS, we developed a training video that can be viewed on our Youtube Channel. Moreover, we contributed to the policy and recommondation report for the EU. The participants of the project will keep each other up to date via the Linkedin-Group Short Food Chain EU Community where information about similar projects and activities will be shared.


Food Integrity Project

The EU-funded FOODINTEGRITY project has consolidated knowledge and applications on food authenticity methodology and fraud prevention. The developed tools and resources will help European food producers and authorities to uncover fraud, adding value to European products. The project comprised 60 participants from 18 European countries and one each from China and Argentina. We from Organic Services were responsible for work package 16: Improving Supply Chain Integrity through Data Sharing. In this context, we proved that Check Organic can serve as a blueprint for any commodity that carry a specific quality claim and can thus be applied not only in the organic market, but in the food industry at large.

Study: Digital Tools for Traceability Efforts

Many companies make claims about traceability without being clear about what this means in the reality of their products and supply chains. On top of that, there is little shared understanding regarding the digital tools and technologies that are available to companies or sectors aiming at creating traceable supply chains. Therefore, we have conducted a study for the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It establishes a shared understanding of the concept of traceability in the food and sustainability sector and provides a categorisation of the tools and technologies currently available to support traceability efforts. The study has built a foundation for a more productive conversation around traceability and technology.

Organic Integrity System for Kazakhstan

A joint Central Asian system for organic agriculture, built around a rigorous traceability system, offers immense opportunities for the sub-region in term of income earnings from organic agriculture. This project focused on Kazakhstan and was supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Naturland Association from Germany. Check Organic has proven to be the ideal tool to track the integrity of the country's development towards increasing organic exports and sustainable income opportunities. Within the given project time frame of 12months, numerous stakeholder meetings, field trips, conferences and workshops with agricultural experts from Kazakhstan, its neighbouring countries and Germany were organised. Close cooperation with the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture now ensures the continuation of Kazakhstan's path towards a more sustainable agricultural future, which will hopefully inspire other countries to follow. The project is followed up by a German government financed cooperation project establishing an Agrarian Political Dialogue between Germany and Kazakhstan from 1/2019 – 12/2022. Organic Services is a project partner.

Ethopian coffee and honey traceability

This study for the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) dealt with a traceability check for food supply chains in Ethiopia. The main product focus was on coffee, but also included an analysis of the potential for honey and wax as added value products for international and national markets. Our assignment was the analysis and development of an implementable transparent supply chain that earns the trust of international buyers, purchasing honey from Ethiopia.

Federbio Integrity Platform, Italy

The Italian organic industry is specifically vulnerable to fraud. Very often, scandals have been related to import from other countries. Therefore FEDERBIO, the Italian organic and biodynamic umbrella organisation, implemented an integrity platform to minimize fraud cases by establishing a grain mass balance system from ‘farm to fork’ – based on Check Organic. Started in 2016, it comprised about 65,000 Italian organic farms, hundreds of buyers, e.g. mills, and 10 participating certifiers. In 2018 about 600,000 tons were verified through the platform. Over strategic, bureaucratic and financial issues within Italy, the platform was discontinued end of 2018.

Brexit-related Organic Policy Research

In view of the UK leaving the European Union, the Organic Research Centre (ORC) – on behalf of the UK’s Department for environment food rural affairs (Defra) – has conducted several studies related to organic farming. The overall goal was to identify how organic food production techniques can help the UK build on its position as a world-leading food and farming nation when the country goes its own ways. Special emphasis has been put on organic policy development and the potential introduction of an independent organic regulation and labelling system, which which required a sound regulatory analysis. This has been conducted by the Organic Research Centre, ecoconsultancy, and Organic Services.

Royal Quinoa Organic Traceability System

Increasing demand for Quinoa, the gluten-free grain from South America that is supposed to have plenty of health benefits, has driven both prices and production. In the Southern Altiplano of Bolivia, a special type of quinoa is grown – known as Royal Quinoa –  which is adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of this region. We from Organic Services have been engaged in a project that developed a brand and quality management system to safeguard the integrity of this Quinoa. Contracted by the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), we monitored all steps from production to the final consumer, and the verification processes along the supply chain. Based on our software tools Group Integrity, Ecert Basic and Check Organic a fully integrated certification and mass balance platform was designed for backing-up the “Royal Quinoa geographical indication”.

Empowering Shrimp Farmers in India

The aim of this project initiated by the Austrian discounter Hofer (who belongs to the Aldi Group) was to establish a certified organic supply chain of Black Tiger Shrimps and to implement activities leading to an improvement of environmental and social conditions for a group of Indian smallholder shrimp farmers. We from Organic Services had the lead lead and implemented the project. In this position, we were responsible for all activities with the partners in Europe as well as with the various partners in India including smallholder groups, hatcheries, processors and certifiers.

Olive Oil Case Study

As a part of the FoodIntegrity project, we from Organic Services have conducted an integrity case study within the olive oil industry. Together with two universities, one government institution and three olive oil companies in Spain, Italy, and Greece, we mapped the olive oil supply chain and identified the parts of the supply chain most vulnerable to fraud as well as the types of fraud that are most likely to occur. Although our integrity platform “Check Integrity” would need to be combined with other fraud mitigation measures focused on the physical product (such as laboratory tests), the cloud-based system proved its ability to detect and prevent the various fraudulent practices present in the olive oil industry.

International Organic Market study

For one of our clients, a major international baby food company, we conducted an international market study on the organic dairy and infant formula market. The market research included 11 country reports on three continents and 5 topic studies. Within only 5 weeks, we – together with a network of country experts – analysed production, processing and supply chains, market channels and demand, regulatory requirements, quality and sustainability aspects.

Expert Insights

Find the latest expert views on organic integrity by NOP, IOA, GfRS, OTA, CERES, Eurofins, YACAO, collected for you at BIOFACH 2020.

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