Organic Guidelines for Retailers
Organic Guidelines

Selling Organic Products - Retail Guidelines

June 2011

We, at DutchValley, on numerous occasions have been asked questions about organic products from our customers that we are privileged to serve in many parts of the country. In light of these questions, we met with a team of officials from Pennsylvania Certified Organic. This is one of the official groups accredited by the U.S.D.A in carrying out certifications, inspections and compliance issues concerning organics.

As many of our customers are aware, we are a Certified Manufacturer of Organic Products through our Dutch Valley Food Development Company and as such are inspected and accountable to Pennsylvania Certified Organic (P.C.O.) due to the fact that we create and produce organic products. The P.C.O. inspects Dutch Valley Food Development regularly to ensure among other things the assurance of organic integrity.

The following are some of the important questions we brought before the P.C.O. on behalf of both our customers and Dutch Valley. We hope this will be helpful in clarifying some of the recent confusion concerning what is a line of products that not only has gained a great deal of popularity recently, but also one that many experts are saying will continue for sometime as more and more of us as consumers want to know that what goes into the products we are eating are natural and organic.

As a retailer, do I have to be Certified Organic in order to sell organic products?

No, under the Federal Rules and Regulations on Organics (supplied by P.C.O.), retailers are exempt from certification. It goes on to say that a retail food establishment or portion of a retail food establishment that handles organic food products that are produced but does not process or produce organic products is exempt from certification.

As a retailer, if I want to cook some of the organic soups or meals in my hot foods deli as well as sell the dry products on the shelf do I have to be certified?

No, again you are exempt from certification as long as you are making the product and selling it on the same premises.

As a retailer can I use the organic symbols/logos to place on the organic products that I package and sell in the store?

No, as a retailer who handles organic products you are not permitted to use the organic symbols/logos, or any signage that states the product is “certified organic”. In order to use these on the packages in your store you would have to be certified.

If I am not allowed to use the organic symbols/logos, am I permitted to use a sticker that has the word organic on it?

Yes, any sticker that a retailer would like to apply to packages or signage that would either be hung above the display or on the shelf, would be acceptable as long as the organic symbols/logo are not part of the signage.

We have a number of stores but receive all our products at one location and ship products to the various stores from this location. Can we sell organic products under this arrangement?

Yes, as long as you transfer the products as whole cases and not as products that are individually packaged or re-packed from bulk.

An inspector comes into your store and you are selling organic products as outlined above and they require you to immediately take the organic products off the shelf unless you can prove that you are certified to sell organics. Is this possible?

As long as you are not using the organic symbol or logo on any packages or on your display signage you are within the U.S.D.A. guidelines. A suggestion that you should consider, get the specific information on who the inspector is and governing office they represent and follow-up with a call to the officials at Pennsylvania Certified Organics at 814-422-0251 and ask for the Materials Review Manager. They can assist you through this so that you fully understand what is expected and permissible in your given situation.

In our store we use bulk bins, both gravity and scoop. Our customers buy the products and quantities they want from these bins. Can we display the outer label from the original organic packages on the front of the bins or fixtures? The case labels would have the organic symbol/logo on it.

Yes, this is permitted under the guidelines of the Organic Rules and Regulations as long as it is directly from the organic bulk case and is applied to the outer portion of the bins.

Are there regions of the country that Organics appear to be stronger than others that would be helpful in knowing if these products would be of interest to my customers?

Organics appear to be in higher demand in certain areas of the country such as the upper Midwest, New England and Western States, however ongoing significant growth has filtered throughout the country as interest and demand continues to increase, regardless of cost.

Is there material that is available that we can share with customers interested in sharing at their retail level?

Yes, there is an organic organization that provides retailers and others with valuable information and materials useful in promoting organic products at stores. For more information on questions you may have, please contact:

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) at 413-774-7511 or or

If I have additional questions on what I can or can’t do as a retailer with organics in my store, who can I contact?

Questions related to what is and is not permissible under the USDA’s Organic Guidelines, contact:

Pennsylvania Certified Organics (PCO) at (814) 422-0251.

PCO is the organization that we work closely with at Dutch Valley and who also holds Dutch Valley accountable to guidelines as established under the USDA's National Organic Program as a Certified Organic Manufacturer.

We hope this information is helpful in clarifying and answering some of the questions that many of you have asked concerning the selling of organic products in your store. If you would like to speak to someone at Dutch Valley further on this, you may contact:

Rick Hess
Dutch Valley Food Development
800-733-4191, ext 2309

In closing, we are very grateful to each of you, our customers for the privilege you have given us to serve you.

Blessings to each of you and again thank you,

Dutch Valley Food Distributors and Dutch Valley Food Development