Article by: Hari Yellina
According to one of the top experts in the organic farming industry worldwide, increasing domestic demand through awareness and certification programmes is necessary for the Australian industry to increase its market share. This month’s inaugural Australian Organic Conference will feature Amarjit Sahota, founder and president of British-based Ecovia Intelligence, who has been following the worldwide organic products market for more than 20 years. Despite having 35.7 million hectares, or nearly half of the world’s total land area dedicated to organic farming, Australia is believed to be the world leader in organic food consumption.
According to Mr. Sahota, organic products account for 13% of food sales in Denmark and are worth more than $3 billion AUD annually. A domestic regulatory framework, according to Australian Organic Limited (AOL) Chief Executive Officer Niki Ford, would assist the expansion of the country’s organic business. According to Ford, Denmark was one of the first nations in the world to introduce organic regulation and standard labelling for certified organic products more than 30 years ago, which greatly enhanced customer trust and demand. Australia is the last developed country in the world without a mandated domestic standard for its organic business, while having the largest certified organic land area and export criteria for organic products.
As the leading trade association for the organic sector, we continue to collaborate closely with other stakeholders from the private and public sectors in order to promote an effective regulatory environment. Ford stated that many organic operators opt to abide by Australia’s export requirements for their domestic sales in the absence of local regulation in order to foster client confidence. More than 3,000 diligent companies voluntarily comply with the country’s stringent organic export certification requirements because they understand that certification symbols, like the “Bud” logo, Australia’s most recognisable organic trust mark, strengthen their image. Implementing a local standard in Australia would increase customer confidence, boost operator credibility, and bring about industry-wide economic potential in the global market. Regulation and consistent labelling have been tremendously beneficial for Denmark’s organic economy.
Targets are also being introduced globally to increase the production of organic food. According to Sahota, the European Commission is on track to meet its target of 25 percent organic agriculture by 2030 since the launch of its Farm to Fork Strategy in 2020. “While targets are an important mechanism, other aspects need to be taken into consideration. For example, countries like Austria, Sweden, and Estonia already have 20% of their agricultural area that is certified organic. Because of the environmental, health, and potential economic benefits of switching to organic agriculture, it is necessary to promote this change. However, changing to organic farming is one thing, while building a market for organic goods is another. In order to prevent a market glut and lower the risk of producers switching to organic agriculture, Australia should increase local production and demand for organic goods,” according to Sahota.