Australian organic producers can look to export markets

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic food

Organic food producers in Australia should look to exports to boost
their sales, advises a new government report.

Organic food is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global food industry, growing at double-digit rates compared to just 1-2 per cent on average in other foods, said the report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). And it claims that there is "a large amount of latent unsatisfied demand"​ for organic foods. In the United States, the market that caters to nearly 145 million consumers each year is growing by 20 per cent annually, while three-quarters of the UK's 60 million people also buy organic produce each year, driving demand by 11 per cent. The European Union, where organic food has become a mainstream food category on offer in most big supermarkets, is also an 'enormous' market for organic produce, and there are export opportunities in the rapidly-growing markets of Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore too, said the report. It identifies some significant export expansion opportunities for Australia, especially in cereals and wine. "The cereal category is one where demand is reported to consistently outstrip supply in key markets such as Europe and Japan,"​ the RIRDC said. "Australia's competitiveness in cereals and pulses will allow it to be competitive in baked products, noodles and pasta."​ The absence of foot and mouth and mad cow diseases also provides opportunities for expanding Australia's organic meat exports, while organic wine has strong export growth potential based on the success of conventional wine exports to the UK, US and Europe. "As per capita consumption of wine in these countries increases and people become more sophisticated, there will be a growing demand for organic wines,"​ the report said. Organic farming in Australia has grown strongly in recent years, with the country containing the largest amount of certified organic land in the world - an estimated 10 million hectares. However Sussan Ley, Australia's parliamentary secretary for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, cautioned that although Australia already produces a wide range of organic products for export, in most cases, supply and capacity for processing, storage and transport limit sales. "The organics industry also sits across the traditional sectors, like beef, lamb, broadacre grains and horticulture, as well as many of the emerging sectors. For organic industries to succeed, they need support from the sectors in which they operate,"​ she said. Japan is Australia's biggest market, accounting for a third of its organic exports, followed by continental Europe with 26 per cent of exports, and Britain at 17 per cent.

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