NZ organic sector worth $600M, exports leading growth, OANZ says

Organic supermarket sales were worth $216 million in the year to May.Photo by Lynn Grieveson

New Zealand's organic sector has grown 30 percent over the past two years to an estimated value of $600 million, led by a 42 percent jump in organic exports, according to the latest market report published today.

The value of the country's organic sector lifted to $600 million in 2017, from $467 million in 2015, according to the Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) 2018 report released today.

Over that period, the value of organic exports jumped 42 percent to $355 million, making up 60 percent of the total, while the value of the domestic organic market increased 8.8 percent to $245 million.

“The 2018 report findings reporting market growth of 15 percent a year tell us loud and clear that opportunity lies before us,” OANZ chief executive Brendan Hoare said in a statement. “The world wants what New Zealand has to offer, and we have the capability to grow our share of the global market."

According to OANZ, the organic market is the fastest growing multi-food sector in the world, driven by consumers who seek sustainable, ethical and authentic natural products that are good for them and easy on the planet. It says the global market for organic food is worth 85 billion euro and is growing at 10.5 percent a year.

In the period covered by the report, New Zealand's organic exports of fresh fruit and vegetables increased 26 percent to $136 million, while dairy, meat and wool exports lifted 45 percent to $99.5 million, and wine exports advanced 13 percent to $46.5 million. Organic exports of processed foods and ingredients advanced 7 percent to $25.9 million, beverages lifted 20 percent to $12 million, honey surged to $1.4 million from $230,000, and cosmetic and beauty products were valued at $28 million.

Europe, North America and Australia were the sector's primary export destinations, taking 69 percent of all exports, OANZ said. There was limited growth in the value of exports to Asia, with exports to China sitting stable at about 10 percent of total exports.

The report noted that retail sales of organic products in New Zealand were growing at twice the pace of conventional products, up 8.1 percent per year versus growth of 4.8 percent for non-organic products, and close to 80 percent of New Zealanders purchase organic products at least fortnightly.

Organic supermarket sales were worth $216 million in the year to May, making up only 2.2 percent of total supermarket sales, OANZ said. Specialty stores sold $30 million worth of organic products.

The number of certified organic operations in New Zealand had increased 12 percent to 1,118 licensees and 1,672 certified enterprises, it said. Organic land area in New Zealand has increased 17 percent to 88,871 hectares and more than 50 percent of producers say they are interested in transitioning to or learning more about organics.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is looking at developing a national organic standard for the country, to bolster consumer confidence in organic products and place the organics regulatory system on the same footing as many other countries. There are currently a range of voluntary standards that organic producers can choose from to label their food ‘organic'.