“The global demand for organic products is increasing and our organic sector has responded with growth of 30 per cent over the past couple of years, and is now worth about $600 million a year,” said New Zealand Agriculture and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor via a press release.
“A national standard gives consumers confidence in organic claims and businesses certainty to invest and innovate in the growing sector [and will] help grow our organic export trade as it brings us in line with international approaches to regulation.”
New Zealand organics trade body Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) expressed enthusiasm for the new national standard, welcoming the ‘swift’ action taken by the government and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in response to public feedback earlier this year.
“[The] extensive consultation process undertaken earlier this year showed 85 % support for changing the way organics are regulated,” said Doug Voss, OANZ Chair.
“Market drivers demand that New Zealand provides customers, consumers and the community domestically and internationally with certainty and credence that certified organic products from here are indeed the real deal.”
“We […] are moving to the next phase in drafting a Bill to define a national standard that is enforceable of what constitutes authentic, certified organic products from New Zealand.”
At present, New Zealand only has private standards and certifiers for organics. Two of the biggest are BioGro and AsureQuality, and both have agreed to move from their private standards into the national standard, according to Stuff.
In a separate statement, organic body Soil and Health Association Chairperson Bailey Peryman said: “People […] are increasingly turning to organic […] but it’s difficult to be sure [what is really] organic. This legislation can provide certainty [and] build a clear definition of what ‘organic’ actually means.
According to the release, an organics bill will be drafted as a next step, in preparation for tabling next year.
New Zealand organic sector worldwide
The New Zealand organic sector is well-recognised worldwide, within a global organic market valued at some US$124.8bn in 2017 and expected to reach US$323.1 bn by 2024, according to Zion Market Research.
“The global demand for organic products is increasing and our organic sector has responded with growth of 30 per cent over the past couple of years, and is now worth about $600 million a year,” said O’Connor.
According to Organic Trade NZ, the key players in New Zealand organic exports are fresh fruit and vegetables at US$96.3mn (NZ$140mn), dairy, meat and wool at US$68.8mn (NZ$100mn), processed foods at US$19.3mn (NZ$28mn) and organic wine at US$32.2mn (NZ$47mn).
Earlier this year, the OANZ Market Report 2018 also found that the country’s domestic organic product sector is growing twice as fast as its non-organic sector, up 8.1% per year in retail sales as opposed to the latter’s 4.8%.