Organic food trend sees demand for certification expertise increase

By John Merriman

- Last updated on GMT

Organic food trend sees demand for certification expertise increase

Related tags Organic food

More than half of the world’s organic agricultural land is found in Australia, and the company responsible for certifying producers there sees demand soaring as organic food prices increase.

The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (Nasaa), which is based in South Australia, has spent the past 28 years providing internationally recognised organic certification for businesses in Australia, and has seen demand grow for its services across the globe as organic products become more popular.

Australia has the greatest amount of certified agricultural land in the world with about 22 million hectares in full certification or in conversion​,” Nasaa general manager Ben Copeman said. “This equates to just over half of the global total​.”

It is estimated the certified organic market is worth around US$91bn globally with Australia’s share siting at just under US$2bn.

A 2014 global marketplace report shows growth for organic beef and grain jumping by 20%, dairy by 18% and around 13% for vegetables and beverages in the past two years.

The surge in demand has grown to the point that Nasaa now travels around the world to provide certification for other countries including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the United States and across South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

This is a very expensive cost for many of the overseas farmers and can often be the difference to them remaining conventional or becoming certified organic​,’’ Copeman said.

Our way to mange this barrier has been to introduce a training program for locally based operators to conduct the annual organic audits themselves. The reports are then forwarded to our South Australian office and we issue the organic certification​.’

We can now certify operators to every major organic market in the world including US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and Europe​.’’

Nasaa operates in 14 countries and certifies around 1,000 operations. It is the world’s biggest certifier of organic land—out of the 42m hectares around the globe, Nasaa certifies 28% of that land.

We are the only organisation outside of China authorised to inspect internationally-based operators for that market​,’’ Copeman added.

We are heavily audited by those same countries to ensure we are meeting the requirements they demand. From a consumer viewpoint, this auditing process guarantees the integrity of all certified organic products​.”

He said capacity to supply hasn’t kept pace with the global demand for certified organic produce. Many farmers are quickly changing their methods to organic to maximise the premium prices currently available, but it is not a quick process.

In 2013 we had 186 inquiries in Australia about organic accreditation. In 2014 that jumped to 748 and this year we expect well over a 1,000​,’’ Copeman said.

It takes around three years for producers to change from industrial to organically grown farming methods, which are meticulously measured, recorded and judged before they can receive accreditation.

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1 comment

The numbers don't add up

Posted by Michael,

How is it possible for Australia to have over 50% of the certified organic farmland yet only have 2.2% of the total revenue associated with organic food production?

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