The European Commission's delay on the introduction of its organic logo, scheduled for 2009, has been labelled "farcical" by a leading organic organisation.

The logo, which was first suggested by the EC in 2007, was designed to be compulsory on all organic products that are 95% or more organic and free of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

However, a complaint by Germany-based retailer Aldi that the logo is too similar to its own organic symbol has meant plans for the EU logo are now on the backburner until 2010.

Richard Jacobs, chief executive of leading UK organic certifier, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) said the last-minute ditching of the planned symbol could be costly for processors and retailers.

"Processors and retailers who have been rushing to re-design labels and packaging now have to put that on hold again, even though they've already gone to the expense of starting the process. This is no way to run a single business, let alone a union of nation states," Jacobs said.

As part of the logo design, the new organic symbol was to include the word 'bio' on it, which Jacobs believes could have caused uncertainty for many.

"This is not a word UK consumers recognise in relation to organic and is only likely to create confusion. This whole project has just gone from bad to worse," he added.

However, Michael Mann, EU spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Development, remained confident the delay will not have a negative effect on the food industry, as "voluntary labels are still in place" and pointed to plans for a promotion programme to take place in the summer.

"The Commission has decided to launch a competition, open to all EU citizens, to design a new logo. This will replace the draft logo which has recently been circulated," Mann told just-food.

Despite concerns over the state of the European organic market, the sector continues to grow, according Eurostat. In 2005 around six million hectares were either farmed organically or were being converted to organic production, an increase of more than 2% on 2004, analysts reported.