Organic mislabelling key focus for September

The issue of products falsely claiming to be ‘organic’ on packaging will be the key focus of this year’s Australian Organic Awareness Month (AOAM). Each September the annual event shines a spotlight on achievements and issues within the organic industry which this year has performed strongly despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Australian Organic Limited, the nation’s peak industry body for organics, has urged consumers to always look for an official Bud certification logo which ensures a product has gone through stringent testing.

Currently in Australia the word ‘organic’ is not defined. For the past 18 months AOL has been working with Government and industry to progress the discussion for clarification and mandatory regulation aligned to Australian export requirements, which will significantly benefit agricultural producers.

The government is now considering a number of regulatory pathways to achieve a common sense approach and align Australia with international standards.

“At the moment being certified organic within Australia is a voluntary process, however any producer or manufacturer can claim a product is organic on its packaging with as little as one ingredient being from organic origins,” said AOL CEO Niki Ford.

“Enforcing domestic regulation around this word will give producers, manufacturers and consumers much greater clarity that a product has been rigorously audited against a high-quality standard.”

Paul da Silva of Toowoomba-based Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co., Australia’s most successful global supplier of certified organic meat, said lack of mandatory domestic regulation has organic export businesses playing at a perpetual disadvantage, particularly with this year’s challenges.

“Each export market requires proof an Australian organic product meets their own country’s organic standard. This is a fundamental requirement for market access,” he said. “However, lack of regulation means we often can’t have equivalence with standards in other markets.

“This forces us and other exporters to go through the full process of getting certification in each separate export market. As we export to nine different countries this can cost thousands of dollars and countless hours per country.

“It often requires auditors from each of those countries to be brought over to Australia to audit our producers and processing facilities – a process that is not possible due to current travel restrictions. If obtaining the particular certification isn’t possible for any reason, such as taking too long or being too expensive, then the business is lost – there are major opportunities just going down the drain.

“The demand for organic is still very strong – even during the uncertainties of 2020. This is a big export opportunity for Australia being hampered by red tape.”

Other organic producers such as poultry farmer Sonya Dowling from Enviroganic Farm in Murringo, who are one of the main suppliers of organic poultry to Woolworths, agree demand has not waned.

“Around 90 per cent of our meat goes to Woolworths for their Macro range and there is definitely an opportunity to increase our volume because demand is so strong,” she said. “Drought, bushfires, floods, COVID-19 – none of it has actually affected our sales. If anything, recent events have boosted our sales.”

Quentin Kennedy, managing director of Kialla Pure Foods in Greenmount, Queensland, which produces certified organic grains and flours said this year had delivered their strongest ever results.

“This year people are cooking more at home and have fallen in love with baking again. As a result, we’ve had five of the best months on record, with strong sales of wheat baking flours. We’ve also seen a lift in other products such as polenta as people try out interesting ingredients.

“Drought-wise this is the third bad year in a row for crops, but fortunately we were able to buy smaller parcels of grain in May which meant we had sufficient stock to service demand.”

This year’s AOAM ambassador, actor Lincoln Lewis, who recently visited numerous Queensland organic businesses including Fordsdale Organic Farms, Market Organics and Sherwood Rd Organic Meats, said he was impressed with the passion and commitment of all the producers.

“It’s great knowing the consumer is being listened to and these businesses are leading the way for a healthier, sustainable future,” said Mr Lewis who has been on a health and wellness journey over the last 18 months.

“So much effort goes into ensuring a product is certified organic. As someone who regularly purchases organic, seeing the Bud logo and knowing a product is genuinely organic is reassuring.”

 

The Australian organic industry is currently worth $2.6 billion and growing year on year. Strong growth has been driven largely by consumer appetite for natural, pesticide-free and synthetic chemical-free wholesome food and a growing awareness of environmentally sustainable practices.

Murray River Organics releases pantry range

Murray River Organics has released a range of pantry staples including 10 new products, available on shelves across Australia now.

The new pantry staples range includes MRO Sultanas & Sun Muscat Raisins, Almonds, Apricots, Chia seeds, Psyllium Husks, Green Lentils and Pumpkin Kernels, as well as a new MRO Coconut Oil and Organic Avocado Oil.

According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2019, 65 per cent of Australian households are now buying some sort of organic product or produce yearly – feeding into a growing market with 5-15 per cent compound annual growth across various pantry staple categories.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious and are demanding cleaner foods, free from chemicals,” says Valentina Tripp, MRO’s CEO & MD. “Products must still taste good but in the most natural and simple form possible.”

MRO is launching its 220-350g range in an innovative refillable canister giving the brand a strong point of difference at an accessible price point.

Ensuring the continued success of organic exports

The Australian Government is proposing new rules to continue to provide a basis for the regulation of organic exports, and as a first step in strengthening and simplifying the current framework.

Head of Exports Division, Fran Freeman said Australia’s organic products are meeting the growing demand for high-quality organic agricultural produce around the world. A fit-for-purpose regulatory system would enable organic operators to harness these opportunities.

“We’re aiming to simplify these regulations and maximise market access opportunities for Australian producers and manufacturers, through efficient regulation,” Ms Freeman said.

“Organic operators—be they producers, processors or manufacturers—can consider and provide feedback on how to make our regulatory system work for them when it comes to exporting their goods. Ongoing industry consultation will be an important part of this reform process.

“Instead of treating the export of organic products separately from the rest of our agricultural exporters, we are looking to explore ways to better align organic exports rules with the regulations that apply to other export commodities.

“Organic exporters will benefit from a more streamlined regulatory system and improved access to the department’s services and systems, which is currently very limited.

“With a considered approach to organic exports regulation reform, we can uphold our reputation as a reliable trading partner with internationally recognised high standards.”

The current export regulations—Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders—will no longer apply from 1 April 2021.

Eating organic foods lowers rates of cancer, research shows

A new study has indicated there could be correlation between organically grown foods and lower rates of cancer.

The research, published by JAMA Internal Medicine in late-October, was part of the French NutriNet-Sante study, which included almost 70,000 volunteers who were free of cancer.

At the beginning of the study, each participants’ diet was assessed based on the French nutritional guidelines and their food and drink consumption recorded in three 24-hour snapshots over two weeks.

Two months into the study, the participants were asked to provide specific information about their consumption of 16 categories of organically labelled foods.

READ: Booming Australian organics industry finding a unified voice

This included fruits, vegetables, soy-based products, dairy products, meat and fish.

The participants were then given an organic food score. If they chose organically produced foods in all 16 categories, they would get a maximum score of 32.

The health of each participant was assessed each year and monitored for a median period of 4.5 years.

When any cases of cancer occurred, details were independently confirmed with the individual’s hospital or treating physician.

The participants’ organic food scores ranged from 0.7 to 19.4. These were used to divide the group into equal quartiles.

The overall cancer risk was 25 per cent lower in those who had the highest organic food score.

Cancers showing the greatest correlation with decreased risk were breast cancer – especially in postmenopausal women, and lymphomas – especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

No correlation appeared with prostate or colorectal cancers, although the relatively short time frame would have made any change unlikely.

But, while there was a correlation between eating organic foods and lower rates of cancer, it doesn’t necessarily mean one caused the other.

People who choose organic foods are likely to be healthier, wealthier and better educated, all factors known to impact risk of cancer, the study explains.

Researchers note that this is the first study of its kind so the findings need to be confirmed in other studies before organic food can be proposed as a preventive strategy against cancer.

However, past research has found that higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains – however they are grown – and lower intakes of processed and red meats can decrease the risk of cancer.

As previous studies with this group had shown people who choose organically grown products tend to have higher income, higher levels of education and healthier diets.

So the researchers adjusted for these factors.

They also made adjustments for other factors that could affect the outcome, such as age, sex, the month the participants were included in the program, marital status, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol intake, family history of cancer, body mass index, height, energy intake, and the intake of dietary fibre and also red and processed meat.

For women (who made up 78 per cent of the study group), they also adjusted for the number of children they had, oral contraception use, postmenopausal status and use of hormonal treatment for menopause.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified some pesticides as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

This means there is limited evidence of a link between pesticide use and cancer in humans, but sufficient evidence of a link between pesticide use and cancer in experimental animal studies.

 

Organics industry coming of age

The organic food and beverage sector has announced that Australian Organic is set to become its peak representative body. Matthew McDonald spoke to Quentin Kennedy, a director of that organisation, about where the industry is heading.

Things have changed for the organic food indutry. It has entered the mainstream.

According to the 2017 Australian Organic Market Report, a survey conducted by Australian Organic (AO), more than two out of three Australian households purchased organic products in the previous year.    

And it’s not just consumers who are attracted to organics. The survey showed that Australia has more certified organically managed agricultural land than any other country. In addition, the 27 million-plus hectares used for certified organic farming in this country account for about 7 per cent of our total farmland.

These figures have translated into more organisation. In February, the industry came together for the Love Organic Symposium, an event in Canberra which was attended not only by growers and manufacturers, but also Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, and others. Out of the symposium it was agreed that, for the first time in Australia, a peak organics body will be formed. Over the coming months a permanent structure of the organisation, to retain the name Australian Organic, will be finalised.

According to Quentin Kennedy (pictured below), a director of AO and managing director of organic cereal grain processor Kialla Pure Foods, most Australians (76 per cent) are already aware of this organisation and its “bud logo”.

Australian Organic logo CMYK

“Originally we began as Biological Farmers of Australia which was both a member-owned body and a certification body. But some years ago we split off the clinical certifier Australian Certified Organic (ACO) as a subsidiary,” he said. “Then we also changed our name and moved from a member-based co-op to a not for profit and renamed ourselves Australian Organic.”

He explained that AO has a license agreement with ACO to approve the use of the logo on all certified products. “We’re separating ACO and opening up use of the bud logo to anyone that has certified with other certification bodies. In return, they will pay a fee which will go towards industry development,” he said.

So AO will now stand alone as the peak industry body. Asked why this step has taken so long, Kennedy nominated diversity and the relative youth of the industry as two important factors.

“The term organic covers all sectors of food and beverage production and agriculture, so having a single voice previously had been a challenge for us. It’s not until an industry starts maturing and getting a critical mass behind certain opinions that you’re able to get consensus.”

Growth, regulation and export potential

The organic food and beverage sector is growing. According to Kennedy, manufacturers of all sizes are now interested in producing organic products. “The bigger corporate players are looking at it now, just from the point of view of differentiating their product,” he said.

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According to the 2017 Australian Organic Market Report, in 2016 Australian exports of organic products increased by 17 per cent (in terms of overall tonnage) as compared to the previous year. While this growth was to all continents, according to Kennedy, much of the future growth is likely to be to Asian markets.

The Government responded to this potential by commissioning professional services network Deloitte Australia to conduct an Organic Export Orders Review. According to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the aim of the review is to improve access for Australian organic products into premium markets and increase the competitiveness of the sector. Submissions ended in late February and the results of the review are due for release in the second half of this year.

Kennedy pointed out that any subsequent regulation is likely to centre around establishing and proving that “organic” products destined for exports are, in fact, organic.

“It’s a regulatory impact statement so they’re assessing the impact of legislation. We want a level of legislation to stay because we need authenticity for our organic exporters,” he said.

In addition, Kennedy said one of the key aims should be to establish equivalence with the national standards of various other nations.

Pointing to personal experience, he said, “One big challenge is we have to be certified to, for example, US standards and Korean standards. Not only is there a lot of lost opportunity but also it adds spend to our systems. We’ve got to store grain in individual silos depending on the certification and we can lose opportunity if we haven’t got product that is certified for Korea.”

Kennedy said that there is still no domestic regulation around organics and said that, though it is not within the scope of the Deloitte review, the industry is hoping this situation will be addressed some time down the track.

“There’s no domestic regulation and it’s a big challenge for us,” he said. “Having domestic regulation around the term ‘organic’ would assist the industry and prevent the players who choose to short cut and not do the right thing.”

But overall he is positive about the industry. He welcomes the establishment of AO as the peak body for the Australian organics industry and is looking forward to the future, both from the point of view of his own business and that of the broader sector.

“The industry’s matured. It’s coming together and it’s a force to be reckoned with. We’ve moved on from being on the hippy fringe, so to speak, and we’re here to stay,” he said.

Murray River Organics appoints new Managing Director and CEO

Murray River Organics Group has appointed Valentina Tripp to the role of Managing Director and CEO.

Valentina is an accomplished chief executive with extensive experience and a track record of success in turnarounds and growing businesses in FMCG, agribusiness and retail across Asia and global markets. Having worked for Simplot, most recently Tripp worked for Top Cut group as Executive Director, where she led the turnaround, repositioning and growth of the meat distribution business in Australia, China, Japan and Korea; together with resetting the future strategy for Simplot as the leading FMCG and agribusiness in Australia.

Prior to Simplot, Valentina was Senior Director with KPMG, leading transformation, strategy, customer growth, supply chain, operational and financial turnarounds. Murray River Organics’ Chairman, Andrew Monk said, “Val’s experience will help steer the direction of the business as it emerges from a period of significant change”.

“The Board of Murray River Organics acknowledges that the business has gone through a challenging period, which has been difficult for our staff, customers, suppliers and shareholders. We are all now focused and aligned on our future, attracting the expertise and skills to drive the performance and growth of the Company in its next phase of development.

“As our company sets its sights on expansion across Australia, Asia, US and Europe, someone of Val’s proven leadership and operational experience will help rebuild a strong operating backbone and positive culture for our organisation – driving change and forward momentum,” added Monk.

In Valentina’s role as Managing Director and CEO, she will ensure the successful integration of Murray River Organics’ recent acquisitions and accelerate the Company’s new product and brand development.

Valentina commented: “I am very excited to be joining Murray River Organics as it prepares for the next stage of growth. As Australia’s largest certified organic producer of dried vine fruit, we have a unique foundation to bring our high quality Australian organic products to the world. I look forward to working with the Murray River Organics team to build on this foundation for the next phase of our growth strategy and to take the business to a new level.”

Tripp’s role commences immediately (16th April 2018), with outgoing CEO Mr George Haggar remaining in the business until the end of June to assist with a smooth transition.

Booming Australian organics industry finding a unified voice

Valentine’s Day takes on a whole new meaning this year when the organic industry comes together to celebrate the launch of the Love Organic Symposium, in Canberra on Wednesday. With the Government to close submissions this month on the review of the only protective organic legislation in Australia, industry leaders will join forces and stand united in creating a single, harmonised voice to Government.

Paving the way for future growth in the industry is Australia’s largest and most recognised industry powerhouse for organics, Australian Organic Ltd (AOL).

Soon to be a stand-alone, member owned, not for profit industry services group, AOL believes it is well positioned to represent the industry and its members. For some time now, AOL has been vocal in urging industry members and stakeholders to join in the journey of this organic unification.

“This is a great opportunity to unite and bring our industry together and present recommendations. Collaboration builds strength and enables us to create a clear vision for the future growth of organics,” said Rhonda Vohland, Acting General Manager AOL.

Taking place at Parliament House over two days, symposium attendees will hear from international and local industry leaders on growing a business through export and innovation. Recommendations for the structure and governance of the proposed peak body including presentations on all viable options as well as discussions on developing a road map for Australia’s Organic Industry will be heard.

Key guest speakers include David Cunningham (Assistant Secretary, Export Standards Department of Agriculture and Water Resources), Hon David Littleproud (MP Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources), Mrs Nola Marino (MP) and Hon Joel Fitzgibbon (MP).

On Thursday 15th February, Deloitte will host a public consultation to discuss a review of the regulation of organic product exports, aimed at improving direct market access for Australian organic producers.

A national survey conducted last year, revealed that organic food has a firm foothold in Aussie shopping baskets, with more than two out of three households purchasing organic products in the last year and this exciting growth trajectory is predicted to continue.

Furthermore, the 2017 Australian Organic Market Report revealed Australia officially holds the largest amount of organically managed farmland in the world at 53 per cent – local demand coupled with increasing export opportunities will further support growth in this booming industry.

Restructure for Australian Organic

Australian Organic Ltd (AOL), has today announced a new structure within the organics industry – marking one of the most significant events in the organisation’s 30-year history.

AOL has restructured its operations to become a stand-alone, member owned, not for profit industry services group. The new structure will enable the industry to more effectively lobby for domestic legislation and have greater and simpler access to international markets for organic exporters.

In addition, Australian consumers will be guaranteed increased ACCC action on questionable organic claims and promised integrity and trust within the industry.

Through a national democratic process last Friday, members and industry leaders casted their vote at the Australian Organic Annual General Meeting – and it was an unopposed “yes” to move forward.

There was significant work and ongoing consulting needed to enable this harmonised movement – the work initially instigated by the Federal Minister for Agriculture Former Senator Barnaby Joyce, and his office who assisted in informing the pathways for the industry.

This new pathway and what it represents is strongly supported by former Senator Nick Xenophon and current Senator Rex Patrick.

“In liaising with Australian Organic over the years, we understand there to be two major issues that remain unresolved for industry members. One is the absence of domestic legislation, which would fully protect the organic attribution claims of legitimate, industry standard-abiding business people who invest in building up their own organic brands and business. The second, is the effective enforcement of claims that are patently not in compliance with the nationally agreed, clearly articulated organic standard,” said Xenophon.

A national survey conducted last year, revealed that organic food has a firm foothold in Aussie shopping baskets, with more than two out of three households purchasing organic products in the last year.

Furthermore, earlier this year, the Australian Organic Market Report revealed Australia officially holds the largest amount of organically managed farmland in the world at 53%, however, this is still not enough to meet growing demand locally.

“The launch of the new structure allows us to collaborate, support and represent the industry more broadly. We are working to ensure we are unified in one national standard, which means we will be a stronger voice to lobby government and we will continue to maintain our strong focus on education and protection of the industry.

Australians can look forward to the opportunities this restructure will deliver to them, and to the industry as a whole, over the decade ahead,” said newly appointed General Manager of Australian Organic Group, Emily Arnold.

Another integral component in the restructure is the representation of the Bud Logo – the oldest Australian organic certification mark in the country that guarantees a product is truly organic.

As a result of this industry change, it will enable all organic certification services to access the Bud via approved and licensed certification agencies.

Nescafé Gold Organic coffee

Nestlé has announced the launch of Nescafé Gold Organic in Australia – a premium grade Fairtrade and organic coffee, inspired by baristas.

The range is known for its rich aroma and smooth taste – and the latest addition is no exception. The blend contains Arabica coffee beans, grown and harvested by Fairtrade certified farmer cooperatives in Peru, which are then ground and roasted to produce a soluble coffee filled with exceptional richness and flavour.

The organic coffee is a key part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to set the benchmark for reducing the footprint of coffee production. It aims to provide Australians with the option of a high-calibre coffee to drink easily at home, that is made with coffee beans that are sourced in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly manner.

The ethically sourced coffee has been classified as certified organic by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA). It has also been independently certified by Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Mark indicates a commitment to giving farmers and workers stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of farmers and workers around the world.

Organic farming matters – just not in the way you think

Is organic agriculture the solution to our global food system challenges? That’s been the premise and promise of the organic movement since its origins in the 1920s: farming that’s healthy, ecological, and socially just. The Conversation

Many people – from consumers and farmers to scientists and international organisations – believe that organic agriculture can produce enough nutritious food to feed the world without destroying the environment, while being more resilient to climate change and improving the livelihoods of farmers.

But as with many important issues of our time, there are more passionate opinions about organic agriculture than there is scientific evidence to support them. And there’s nothing black or white about organic agriculture.

For a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, we systematically and rigorously evaluated the performance of organic versus conventional agriculture on three key fronts – environmental impact, producer and consumer benefits. As much as possible, we based our review on previous quantitative synthesis of the scientific literature – so-called meta-analyses. We also examined whether those studies agree or disagree in their verdicts.

We discovered that organic farming does matter – just not in the way most people think.

Environmental impacts

Compared to a neighbouring conventional farm, an organic farm at first appears to be better for the environment. But that’s not the whole story. Here’s how it breaks down.

What’s good: Organic farms provide higher biodiversity, hosting more bees, birds and butterflies. They also have higher soil and water quality and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

What’s not-so-good: Organic farming typically yields less product – about 19-25% less. Once we account for that efficiency difference and examine environmental performance per amount of food produced, the organic advantage becomes less certain (few studies have examined this question). Indeed, on some variables, such as water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, organic farms may perform worse than conventional farms, because lower yields per hectare can translate into more environmentally damaging land-clearing.

Consumer benefits

The jury’s still out on whether the comsumer is better off, too.

What’s good: For consumers in countries with weak pesticide regulations, like India, organic food reduces pesticide exposure. Organic ingredients also most likely have slightly higher levels of some vitamins and secondary metabolites.

What’s not-so-good: Scientists can’t confirm whether these minor micronutrient differences actually matter for our health. Because the difference in the nutritional value of organic and conventional food is so small, you’d do better just eating an extra apple every day, whether it’s organic or not. Organic food is also more expensive than conventional food at present and therefore inaccessible to poor consumers.

Pricy organic ingredients don’t fall within many consumers’ budgets.
Phil Roeder/flickr, CC BY

Producer benefits

Organic methods bring certain benefits for farmers, some costs and many unknowns.

What’s good: Organic agriculture is typically more profitable – up to 35% more, according to a meta-analysis of studies across North America, Europe and India – than conventional farming. Organic also provides more rural employment opportunities because organic management is more labour-intensive than conventional practices. For workers, though, the biggest advantage is that organic decreases their exposure to toxic agrochemicals.

What’s not-so-good: We still don’t know whether organic farms pay higher wages or offer better working conditions than conventional farms. Organic farm workers are most likely exploited in similar ways as those tilling the fields on conventional farms.

The takeaway

In short, we cannot determine yet whether organic agriculture could feed the world and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture while providing decent jobs and giving consumers affordable, nutritious food.

It’s a lot to ask of one industry, and there are still just too many unanswered questions. Some of these questions relate to agriculture, such as whether organic farms can eventually close the yield gap with conventional farms and whether there are enough organic fertilisers to produce all the world’s food organically.

But some questions are also about humanity’s collective future. Can people in the rich world learn to change our diet and reduce food waste to avoid having to increase food production as the global population grows? And are enough people willing to work in agriculture to meet the needs of labour-intensive organic farms?

A more useful question is whether we should continue to eat organic food and expand investment in organic farming. Here the answer is a definitive yes.

Organic agriculture shows significant promises in many areas. We would be foolish not to consider it an important tool in developing more sustainable global agriculture.

Only 1% of agricultural land is organically farmed worldwide. If organic land continues to expand at the same rate that it has over the past decade, it will take another century for all agriculture to be organic.

But organic farming’s influence goes far beyond that 1% acreage. Over the past 50 years, organic farms have provided conventional agriculture with examples of new ways to farm and acted as a testing ground for a different set of management practices, from diversifying crop rotations and composting to using cover crops and conservation tillage. Conventional agriculture has neglected these sustainable practices for too long.

So yes, you should identify and support those organic farms that are doing a great job of producing environmentally friendly, economically viable, and socially just food. Conscientious consumers can also push to improve organic farming where it is not doing so well – for example on yields and worker rights.

As scientists, we must close some of the critical knowledge gaps about this farming system to better understand its achievements and help address its challenges.

But in the meantime, everyone can learn from successful organic farms and help improve the other 99% of agriculture that’s feeding the world today.

Verena Seufert, Postdoctoral fellow, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia and Navin Ramankutty, Professor, University of British Columbia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australian organic winners celebrate at annual awards

 

Australian Organic, Australia’s leading organic industry body, last week hosted their third annual Australian Organic Awards for Excellence.

The Australian Organic Awards are a chance for individuals and businesses within the certified organic industry to come together and celebrate their achievements; and be recognised for their hard work and commitment to the industry.

“This year we were blown away with the popularity of our awards night,” said Australian Organic CEO Mr. Paul Stadhams. “Our event was sold out within 3 days of the tickets going on sale and we had an overwhelming response to award submissions this year. I think this is a real testament to the growth and popularity of certified organics across Australia.”

The Australian Organic industry is worth over $1.8billion to the Australian economy; a figure that grows annually. In addition there has been a 15% growth of Australian certified products exported into international markets; allowing Australian Organic to arguably claim their famous ‘Bud’ logo as one of the most popular and recognised in the world.

The Australian Organic Awards presented 11 awards during the night and added an additional two individuals to their coveted Hall of Fame list.

  • The Australian Organic Reader’s Choice Product of the Year 2016: Seasol International
  • The Australian Organic Chairman’s Award 2016: Benalla Mushrooms
  • Australian Organic Hall of Fame 2016: Roger Pitt (Co-Owner and Executive Director of Kadac ), Howard Rubin (Owner of The Koala Tea Company)
  • Australian Organic Best Certified Product 2016 (Non-food): Nutrisoil Liquid Biological Fertiliser
  • Australian Organic Best Certified Product 2016 (Food): Barambah Organics
  • Australian Organic Best Certified Product of the Year 2016 (Beverage): Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs Co. Organics Range
  • Australian Organic Best Certified Product of the Year 2016 (Cosmetic): Savi, Soothe – All Skin Types, Savi Organics
  • Australian Organic Retailer of the Year 2016: Garden Organics
  • Australian Organic Business of the Year 2016: Eclipse Organics
  • Australian Organic Export Market Leader Award 2016: Arcadian & Natural Meat Co.
  • Australian Organic Young Organic Leader Award 2016: Cocolife Australia
  • Australian Organic Farmer of the Year Award 2016: Murray River Organics

 

 

Honest to Goodness named ‘Australia’s Favourite Organic Brand’

Honest to Goodness has won three categories including ‘Favourite Organic Brand’, ‘Best Organic Wholesaler’ and ‘Best Organic Online Store’ at this year’s Organic Consumer Choice Awards (OCCAs).

This is the second year running the Sydney based organic food supplier has won all three categories in the consumer vote. With strong growth in recent years, the company stocks over 1000 organic and natural products and maintains a strong and diverse distribution in independent supermarkets, health food and local stores across Australia.

“We are excited to be recognised by our customers for the second year in a row as a trusted and loved organic brand,” said Matt Ward, Managing Director and Owner of Honest Goodness.

“Being a small business in a niche and fast growing industry has been advantageous for us as we are able to listen to what the customers have to say and adapt where needed whilst still staying true to our principles.

“Our customers have always valued quality ingredients and the benefits organic food provides.”

Founded as a market stall in 2002 by Matt and Karen Ward, the company actively supports the organic industry, sustainability and community in dealings with their suppliers and customers. Wherever possible it sources organic, fair trade or biodynamic products and prefer locally grown products in support of local communities and regional Australia.

The awards, organised annually by the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE) as part of National Organic Week, are the only organic awards program decided by consumers.

“After 8 years of running these awards the program consistently achieves significant increases in sales of organic products by building customer loyalty to organic brands involved in the awards. The OCCAs also recognises those brands that have a customer focus resulting in increased capacity in the industry,” said Eric Love, Chairman, CORE.

Taste the Difference during National Organic Week

National Organic Week Australia, an event intended to increase awareness of the benefits of organic products and farming production systems, is now underway.

Until Sunday 25th September, targeted media and locally-held activities around the country will provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the benefits of going organic. Organisers hope to accelerate the uptake of organic products and production in the wider Australian community.

Host of Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis, is ambassador of National Organic Week.

“As consumers, you want food you can recognise and trust. Buying organic products supports food safety, health, good nutrition and the environment. Products that carry the logo of an accredited organic certification body are guaranteed to be genuine organic,” he said.

The events schedule can be viewed here.

 

Just because the label says ‘organic’, doesn’t mean it really is

Australian Organic Awareness Month, returning in September, will this year ask the question ‘what really is organic?’.

“There is a significant and undeniable growth in the popularity of organic products,” said Paul Stadhams, CEO of event organiser Australian Organic.

“And now more than ever as a leading body in the industry, we are making it a priority that all Australians understand what makes an organic product just that – organic.”

The organic industry is worth over $1.8billion to the Australian economy and this revenue is expected to grow by 5.6 per cent over the next year nationally with a predicted growth of 15 per cent internationally.

“It is a common misconception that because the word ‘organic’ might appear on a label that the product must be good for you,” continued Stadhams. “However this isn’t necessarily the case. We want people to understand that if you want to buy organic then you need to look for a certified organic logo like our ACO Bud logo. This is your 100 per cent guarantee that you are buying real, honest organic products.”

Australian Certified Organic is one of seven certification bodies nationally and their ACO Bud logo has been identified as the most popular and most recognised certification logo.

The ACO Bud logo appears on over 17,000 products covering everything you might need from fresh produce and beverages to textiles, cosmetics, cleaning products, bedding, clothing, beauty products, sanitary items, gardening and even pet food.

“People might not realise how diverse the certified organic market is,” commented Australian Organic Chairman Dr Andrew Monk. “It really is possible to purchase pretty much everything you need certified organic!’”

Australian Organic Awareness Month will run from the 1st to the 30th September 2016. Interviews with Australian Organic Ambassadors, or staff are available on request. Australian Organic Awareness Month Packs are available on request.

Australian Organic to hold an Awareness Month

Australian Organic’s awareness month in September will promote the ‘Bud’ logo as a sign of a trustworthy product.

September will be the second awareness month, after its inaugural launch in 2014.

Australian Organic aims to use the month to highlight the diversity of industries under the certified organic banner and instil trust in the ‘Bud’ logo.

“Being certified organic means that a product is cruelty free, non GM, pasture fed, socially responsible, sustainably fished, biodiversity friendly and of course grown free from harsh synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics,” said Australian Organic’s Commercial General Manager, Joanne Barber.

Last years’ campaign saw an increase in consumer research into the certified organic market and an increase in sales at a retail level.

“Our clients have told us that during and post the campaign last year, they had more customers than ever interested in certified organic products,” Barber said.

Certified organic products being promoted throughout Awareness Month will range from food and beverages to cosmetics, textiles, gardening products and even pet food.

Australian Organic Awareness Month this year will include in-store promotions with retailers across the country.

“We have more partners involved this year and aim to showcase an even wider range of our clients’ certified organic brands. It is such a great opportunity for our local, home grown certified organic client’s to get a platform to promote their products,” Barber said.

Australian Organic chose September this year as it aligns with the US and UK celebrations of bringing awareness to ‘organic’.

Australian Organic Awareness Month will run from the 1st to the 30th September 2015.

 

Aussie organic food companies head to SIAL China

Nine Australian food companies are heading to Asia’s largest food and beverage show in May with Australian Organic.

Australian Organic is exhibiting at SIAL China for the first time, in conjunction with Australian businesses; Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Company, Coolibah Herbs, Eco Farms, Gemtree Wines, Kialla Pure Foods, Murray River Organics, Nature’s Gift, Pana Chocolate and OZGANICS Organic Foods.

SIAL China attracts 55,000 visitors each year and has over 2,000 exhibitors.

Australian Certified Organic is a subsidiary of Australian Organic, the largest organic industry group in the country.

Australian Organic’s General Manager of Commercial, Joanne Barber, says China’s appetite for certified organic is expected to grow 20 percent each year until 2020.

“According to Mintel research, 80 per cent of urban Chinese shoppers believe it’s worth paying more for organic food and drink," Barber said.

"Australian certified organic products offer safe food options, which have thorough traceability.

“They are audited each year to make sure they comply with strict organic standards. Some of the businesses joining us at SIAL China already sell into Asia, while others such as raw chocolate makers Pana Chocolate and herb and vegetable growers Coolibah Herbs are in the position to export and are interested in making their products available across the Australasia region.”

 

five:am Organic Cacao Yoghurt

Product Name: five:am Organic Cacao Yoghurt

Product Manufacturer: five:am Organics

Shelf Life: 42 days

Packaging: Recyclable 170g tub

Product Manager: Nicholas Simms

Brand Website: www.fiveam.com.au

What the company says:

Yes, Cacao yoghurt – we are about to rock your world.

Cacao is the purest form of chocolate made by cold-pressing cocoa beans, resulting in a raw powder. This process retains the living enzymes but removes the fat, resulting in the most nutritionally complex food on the planet! Cacao is chock-a-block full of antioxidants, which protect the body from ageing and disease caused by free radicals, has been proven to boost your mood and even act as an aphrodisiac.

Five:am have hit a home-run by blending this incredible superfood with their ‘world’s best tasting’ yoghurt, resulting in the perfect pick-me-up snack or after dinner treat.

Organic yoghurt + healthy chocolate = the definition of guilt-free indulgence, that tastes am:azing.

 

Natural and organic expo heads to Sydney

A tradeshow devoted exclusively to natural and certified organic food and grocery products will be held in Sydney, 3-4 May 2015.

The Naturally Good Expo is the first large-scale tradeshow and learning event for retailers, distributors and manufacturers of packaged health products in Australia and New Zealand and will be held in Sydney at Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park.

According to event director Andrew Jones, the event is a barometer for where the natural and organic products market is now, and where it is headed.

“There’s been an explosive shift in the way we consume, with today’s mainstream shopper more educated and more passionate about the benefits of eating and living a healthier lifestyle. Coupled with the growing gluten free, vegetarian, paleo and other specialty diet communities, this healthy lifestyle movement has evolved from fad to essential choice wherever consumers make purchase decisions.

“We have moved beyond awareness to a tipping point where there is now high demand for all things natural, organic and sustainable.” Jones said.

“Naturally Good Expo is where you can see and sample what’s new in the market, discover the latest product innovations, identify what’s selling today, and gain an insight into what the health and wellness trends of tomorrow are. The event provides a window into the many categories driving growth of the health and wellness retail market in the region.” 

Naturally Good Expo will feature nearly 200 exhibitors with thousands of SKUs showcasing the biggest selection of natural and certified organic food and beverages, vitamins and supplements, natural cosmetics, skin care and toiletries, and home and pet products.  New products are the lifeline of the retail and grocery industry so there’s been a concentrated effort to ensure a good mix of new products and new companies are represented on the Expo floor.

A Featured Product Showcase will highlight new products and innovations being exhibited at the Expo. Attendees can see the products at-a-glance, then head off to the exhibitors stand to sample the product and learn more about the ingredients and health benefits.

Education is a strong focus of the event with more than 30 sessions running across the two days. All sessions are free and provide in-depth information and insights on product and market trends, consumer and shopper behaviour, merchandising, and customer experience. For brand marketers and product manufacturers, there’s a series of education sessions that deliver practical ideas and strategies for business growth. Topics cover getting products retail ready, pricing and margins, building out distribution, brand building, packaging and labelling, and exporting into the two largest consumer markets in the world, Asia and North America.

Admission to the Expo is strictly trade only. The entry fee is $30 however if your pre-register online before 30 April, it’s free. To register or for more information on the event including the full education program, speaker line up and exhibitor list, click here.

 

Organic winemakers begin exporting to China

Angove Family Winemakers have received the first official order from their Chinese distributor, making them the largest Australian winemaker to export Organic wine to China.

The order for Angove Organic Cabernet Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot will soon set sail following years of work and collaboration between Australian Certified Organic, Angove Family Winemakers and their distributor partner in China.

“Once our vineyards and winery achieved certification to the rigorous Chinese Organic Standard late last year it has been a slow, at times tedious, but steady process to actually receive the order and get product to market,” said Mark Ramm, export manager for Angove Family Winemakers.

“There were a lot of hurdles we needed to overcome once certification was achieved including hand applying specific Chinese supplied certification stickers to each and every bottle. Now that we have done this once we can streamline the process to ensure the demand potential we are hearing about is fully achieved – the Organic wine market in China is potentially worth $3-4 million dollars in additional revenue to us so we need to do it right, first time and every time.”

Australian Certified Organic is a subsidiary of Australian Organic. The company's general manager of commercial Joanne Barber says Angove's export to China is a significant achievement.

"Chinese buyers have a lot of confidence in food and beverages labelled with the Australian Certified Organic logo. Like Australian shoppers, they also want products that have been grown free from synthetic pesticides, genetic modification and additives and they want to support farmers who care about the environment. We are working closely with Austrade in China to ensure products wearing the Australian Certified Organic logo are well represented."

Organic produce sales in China are currently growing at 20 percent per annum according to Austrade so the move by Angove Family Winemakers represents a significant ground floor opportunity.

Angove currently have 172 acres of Organic vineyard spread across the Riverland and McLaren Vale with an additional 136 acres in conversion and more to follow the three year process as demand continues to grow. Angove also source grapes from other Certified Organic growers.

Angove have already shipped and sold Organic wines in Canada, England, Japan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Scotland.

 

five:am recognised as a ‘B Corporation’

Organic foods brand five:am has been awarded B Corp certification by meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance.

B Corporations – or B Corps – are certified by the not-for-profit B Lab to demonstrate the principles of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Managing director Michael Tinkler said the certification reflects the company’s long-standing commitment to running its business ethically through sourcing quality local and organic ingredients.

“five:am’s B Corp certification gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our values of health and nutrition, locality, community and the environment, which are ingrained in the DNA of five:am. We make products that empower and inspire people to take on their day and live a healthier lifestyle.

“Our B Corp status means that consumers can be confident that the product they are buying comes from a company that genuinely cares about the environment and our community. These values are exactly what attracted PZ Cussons to acquire the business last year, and we look forward to seeing how five:am continues to flourish with the support of PZ Cussons” Mr Tinkler said.

B Lab Executive Director Alicia Darvall, said the certification recognises five:am’s commitment to upholding the core values the brand was built on, as the company grows in presence and market share.

“We are delighted to announce five:am as a certified B Corporation – the largest company in Australia to achieve this status,” Darvall said.

five:am joins a global movement of 1200 B Corps.