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Hot off the Press—Our Updated GORP Guide

In 2021, the Organic Trade Association’s Retailer Council took on the task of modernizing the Good Organic Retail Practices (GORP) guide. This tool is an important asset in helping retailers ensure both organic compliance with the National Organic Program, and establish best practices that build consumer confidence and protect organic integrity.

Since it was first published two decades ago, our GORP training guide has been widely distributed, and has assisted a great diversity of retail establishments. Since then, the retail environment and organic industry have changed dramatically. The updated GORP guide not only reflects these changes, but has been adapted to include the virtual marketplace, and streamlined to reflect today’s pace of business.

Some of the important questions addressed in this user-friendly guide include:

  • Does my retail establishment need to be certified?
  • What are the requirements for handling and merchandising organic products?
  • How may I market organic products in-store and online?
  • Are there different requirements for organic retailers by department?
  • What about private label and products made in-store using organic ingredients?
  • When is it ok to use the USDA Organic seal?

In addition to what’s outlined above, the GORP guide provides direction for retailers’ backend operations, including practical tips about receiving, storage, record-keeping, pest control, and labeling.

Organic regulations are unique in that it was the industry that recognized the need for federal oversight to create a level playing field for producers and handlers of organic products. Made up of farmers, food manufacturers, as well as all segments of the food system including retailers, these early adopters of organic recognized that a common standard for growing and labeling organic products was essential to the success of the organic “brand.”

The continued success of organic in the marketplace hinges on all of us safeguarding the integrity of these products, and retaining the trust that consumers have shown in the USDA Organic label since Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990.

The Organic Trade Association’s GORP guide is an educational resource and introduction to handling, storing, and selling organic products in the United States. It is designed to provide insight on how to protect the organic integrity of the products through retail channels. Organic products are certified to strict standards and regulated and enforced by the federal government. By adopting these practices and following basic good organic handling methods, your retail operation will protect organic products from prohibited materials, maintaining the segregation between organic and non-organic products, and doing your part in maintaining consumer confidence and organic integrity.

The GORP guide is available at no cost to all of the association’s retailer members. To get your copy, visit OTA.com.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 Organic Report, you can view the full magazine here.