• QA 241
    Is the indication OGST (Organic/Sustainable) internationally acknowledged?
    I have seen written on Export Permits a description for a type of coffee reading OGST. I have been told it means SUSTAINABLE ORGANIC. I would like to know if this is correct, and what differences exist between this and the simply defined "Organic" coffee, and if the acronym OGST is accepted worldwide in the coffee trade.
    Asked by:
    Industry Official - El Salvador

    The short answer is NO. Organic certification is of course available to qualifying producers but as far as we are aware there is no standard or even agreement as to what constitutes ‘sustainable’ coffee.  

    Use of the term ‘sustainable’ is gaining ground in many industries and coffee is no exception. But it is not clear on what basis claims are made that something is in fact ‘sustainable’ – in coffee certainly none of the existing certification/verification standards make this claim because the research on this is ongoing and no firm conclusions have been reached.

    Perhaps the acronym in your example is used to differentiate organic coffee from other exports and helps the country in question to track the export of organic coffee. It could also refer perhaps to coffees that have a double certification but, we do not know. What we do know is that, in order to collect data on organic coffee shipments, the International Coffee Organization (www.ico.org) asks exporting countries to indicate whenever a shipment is of organic coffee. But nowhere does the ICO use the term OGST and questions to leading Latin American coffee exporters have drawn the same response.

    Alternatively, this may simply be a marketing ploy to classify a coffee as Organic/Sustainable but the majority of the coffee trade would recognise it as such and, we think, would ignore it.  

    Posted 27 October 2010 

    Related chapter(s):

    03 - Niche markets, environment and social aspects 

    Related Q & A:
    Q&A 102, 162, 222