Australian organic standards group yet to be finalised

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic food

An Australian standards body working to establish a committee to
rule on organic certification for domestic and imported food
products has denied media reports suggesting that it has finalised
representatives for the group.

With talks over the standards set to begin in May, the denial is likely to prove a setback for organic federation of Australia (OFA), which called for the standards to be imposed in a bid to drive growth in organic food production. Standards Australia told AP-Foodtechnology.com that contrary to claims made last week, it was still waiting to confirm representation from "a couple"​ of the 16 food organisations invited to make up the committee. Organic food and beverage products are becoming an increasingly important stream of revenue for processors in the country, due to consumer concerns with the quality of non-organic and GM ingredients. The OFA's Andre Leu, believes that the implementation of the national standards will ensure consumer faith in organic products, by acting as a basis for domestic regulation in the country. A similar standard is already in place for the country's exports of organic food, and the OFA is keen that domestic market for organic foods is finally following suite. "It was the Australian Government that proposed that an Australian Standard was the correct way to get domestic regulation,"​ Leu told AP-Foodtechnology.com. "It took a lot of consultation and investigation before we decided that this was the only option." ​He added that the standards, which would be used by the industry to define organic production techniques, allowable inputs and prohibited practices, could conceivably be in place by the end of the year. The OFA has already begun discussions with the government over the possibility of enforcing the standard to ensure organic food production is fully protected in the country. Australia is becoming an increasingly important player in the burgeoning global organic food market. The OFA estimates that Australia currently ranks behind only Japan and China in the Asia Pacific region for supply and demand of the goods. In findings published last year by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), the popularity of organic food was found to have increased significantly. The research found organic food to be 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. The report added that Australia could have a strong role to play in meeting this growth. "Australia's competitiveness in cereals and pulses will allow it to be competitive in baked products, noodles and pasta,"​ it stated.

Related topics: Policy, Oceania, Industry growth

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