How USDA JONA Certification Works for Tea
Tea is consumed widely globally, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Compared to the more common usage of black tea and coffee in Europe, people in Asia and the Middle East are more inclined towards green tea and herbal teas. With the increasing varieties of tea leaves worldwide, more countries are importing tea from tea-rich countries like Japan. Eventually, the need for ensuring the quality of tea has also become critical. Each country has its regulatory authority to monitor the quality of organic products.
USDA certifications for tea and other organic produce are recognized worldwide. Different authorities in other countries work independently or alongside USDA to provide certification for tea. If you want to be recognized as a quality tea in Japan or import an existing label, understanding the JONA certification will conveniently help you obtain the importation certificate. JONA certification is an equivalency certification needed by importers to import products from Japan to regions like the USA, EU, etc.
Let’s tell you in detail about USDA JONA certification for tea import.
What is USDA Certification?
The US Department of Agriculture, commonly known as USDA, has monitored the American farming industry for over 150 years. The department deals with all the essential procedures and processes related to the farming industry and generates solutions. Apart from taking care of the quality processes, USDA also provides certification to the companies that comply with all the rules and regulations. USDA ensures quality products being delivered to the consumer by inspecting the product during different process steps.
A product with the USDA Certification label means that it has been observed throughout the manufacturing procedure and is fit for consumption. For products like organic tea, USDA approves certification by ensuring a few crucial factors, including:
- The quality of the soil where tea was grown
- Pest control
- The type and amount of additives used
- Drying and storage processes according to the guidelines
What is JAS?
You might hear JAS and JONA interchangeably quite frequently. JAS and JONA are not interchangeable terms for one process, but they represent the same domain. JONA (Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association) provides USDA equivalent Japanese certification under the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS). The JAS certifications in different food categories are determined by various parameters, including Production, Processing, Labeling, and Marketing of the products. The products are JONA/ JAS certified if they meet the particular criteria.
Are JONA and USDA Equivalent?
Yes, you can blindly trust JONA certification for tea as it works on the same standards as USDA certification. USDA and JAS signed an equivalence agreement in 2014 expressing the standard of JAS certification to be the same as USDA. Both the certifications are equal in terms of quality standards until the process follows all guidelines. The products must also comply with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries standards and be labeled properly and the JAS certification seal for import.
How does USDA JONA Certification Work for Tea?
Considering that USDA JONA certification provides credibility to organic products, it is an excellent means of being recognized as a U.S.-certified product. The process is not complex, but it requires you to comply with all the requirements of JAS to obtain USDA JONA certification for tea. When you are willing to import organic tea to the USA, it requires JONA as an import certificate to enable the importer to make sales in the region.
How to get JONA Certification for Tea Import?
JONA does not provide certification to everyone but only those who fall under its eligibility and qualification categories. If you are unsure about applying for JONA certification for tea import, it is important to comply with the equivalency terms of JONA and USDA. Here’s a brief description of the process for receiving the certificate.
The Application for Import certificate is submitted by a JAS-certified operator to the JONA office along with the required documents.
If JONA accepts the application, it sends an import certificate to the applicant.
Once the applicant agrees to the certificate contents, it is sent to the third party, and a copy is sent to the applicant.
JONA shall review and inspect the application of the import certificate annually.
Which Documents Do You Need?
To get the USDA JONA certification for tea, you need a few documents along with the application form. Here’s all you need:
- Application for certification
- Required Attachment and Statement of Applicant’s Operation
If the JONA official needs some other documents, they ask for them before accepting the application
How to Know if You Have Obtained USDA JONA Certification for Tea?
When the on-site and international inspection is carried out after the acceptance of the application, the next step is certification. A member of the certification committee takes certification decisions following a thorough examination of all the influential factors.
- The President of JONA notifies the certification applicant after receiving a decision from the Manager of Certification Committee or the member who approves certification.
- The applicant is informed of the reasons for an unaccepted application.
- The certificate and certification number is given to each newly certified importer
- JONA shall keep the records of certification decisions.
How does USDA JONA Certification Work For Tea Import?
Japan has equivalency agreements with various countries to ensure the smooth import and export of organic products. These equivalency agreements allow sellers in the USA, Canada, and the EU to import products with JAS certification. The certificate has to be sent with the shipment to be shown to the Customs officials. Each copy of the certificate costs somewhere between $20 and $100.
- The official language of JONA is Japanese. However, they also accept applications in English and Chinese.
- In case of the need for a translator outside Japan for an on-site inspection, the applicant must bear the charges.
- The JONA office hours are 9:00 – 12:00 and 12:45 – 17:30, except Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays.
A JAS-certified operator fills out an Application for Import Certificate and submits it to the JONA office along with attachments. ・If the JONA office verifies application contents, it issues an import certificate and sends it to the applicant. Upon the agreement with the applicant. JONA is able to send it to a third party (e.g., exporter) and send a photocopy of it to the applicant. ・JONA shall verify the contents of the Application for Import Certificate basically with documents. If necessary, JONA may conduct irregular surveillance. Moreover, JONA shall evaluate on a regular annual inspection if the application of import certificates is correctly issued.
If you are considering importing organic tea from Japan, please contact us and we will be happy to guide you through each of the steps. Click here to contact Green Tea Merchant.
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