From the early 1960s onwards, the first natural food stores were established in the Netherlands, alongside the existing biodynamic agricultural and horticultural businesses.
Consumers were becoming increasingly concerned about the condition of nature and the environment and the deterioration of food quality.
People were becoming ever more aware of the risks of chemical crop protection products on aspects such as biodiversity and food safety (Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962).
Due to the increase in the number of natural food stores, the need arose for regional wholesalers that could supply these stores. By 1973, the Netherlands had nine distribution centres for organic products, testament to the growth and professionalization of the organic agricultural sector!
There was a growing need among the entrepreneurs and distribution centres for standardization and a certification system that could guarantee the quality of their products. The first step was the foundation of the Federation of ecological distribution centres in 1978. This federation had its own consultancy department that not only provided advice but which was also responsible for monitoring the quality of organic products.
The department drew up guidelines on what ecological agriculture should and should not entail. These guidelines made it possible to carry out assessments and inspections.
Over time, the term ‘ecological’ was replaced by the term ‘organic’. The biodynamic agricultural sector became a niche market with its own additional guidelines.
In 1985, the Dutch private quality label for organic products – the EKO quality label – was launched. From then on, large retail chains and supermarkets could include products in their range that were guaranteed to be organic.
In order to guarantee independent monitoring of organic products for consumers and retail, the Stichting Keur Alternatief voortgebrachte Landbouwproducten [Label for the alternative production of agricultural products foundation], abbreviated to SKAL, was founded in 1987.
The European organic regulation came into effect in 1991. This regulation stipulates that European rules must be incorporated into Dutch legislation. In 1992, the Dutch government appointed SKAL to implement the European regulations and to monitor compliance with them.
This was also the moment when the foundation changed its name to Skal Biocontrole: control body for organic production.