Standards Australia to update Organic and Biodynamic Products standards

Standards Australia is currently revising AS 6000 – 2009 Organic and Biodynamic Products to take into account updated requirements, methods and technology.

The objective of AS 6000 is to provide a framework for the organic industry covering production, preparation, transportation, labelling and marketing.

The Standard provides minimum requirements for products with labelling that states or implies they have been produced under organic or biodynamic systems.

The Standard aims to serve as a guide to farmers, producers and consumers and to harmonise national provisions for the production, identification and labelling of organically and biodynamically grown products.

The main changes in this revision are to update:

  • Requirements for the conversion of land into a production system for organic or biodynamic products;
  • Conditions for the use of synthetic amino acids;
  • Requirements for Livestock Housing and Range Management; and
  • General principles and requirements for Biodynamic Production.

Richard Souness, chairman of Technical Committee FT-032, Organic and Biodynamic Products, said, “The Australian Standard AS 6000 serves as a guide for industry, producers and consumers on all aspects of the organic and biodynamic industry, from production to labelling to marketing. It aims to protect consumers against deceptive and unsubstantiated product claims, and also protect organic producers against misinterpretation of other agricultural products as organic.”

“The Standard is now being revised to take into account updated requirements, methods and technology. We invite public comment on the proposed revision to AS 6000.”

In accordance with Standards Australia’s standards development process, the proposed draft of AS 6000 will be open for public comment from Tuesday, 17 February, 2015 to Tuesday, 21 April, 2015.

All draft Standards for public comment and instructions on how to comment are listed here.

 

Time to become organic certified may be cut down

Under a proposal by the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council, producers could be fully organically certified after one year of inspections.

It currently takes three years for a farmer or grazier to achieve organic certification; this includes a year of ‘pre certification’ and two years of ‘in conversion’ until achieving full certification in the third year.

The proposal acknowledges prior organic practices; so producers could be fully certified after one year of inspections, if they can verify that the property has been under organic management for the previous three years.

Australia’s largest and most recognised organic certification body Australian Certified Organic has been lobbying for the change and welcomes the proposal.

Its Chief Certification Officer Michael Baker says the change would bring Australia’s organic standards in line with international standards.

He says, “This is an exciting development and is especially good news for certified organic producers who want to add additional land to their operations.

“It’s a change Australian Certified Organic has requested for some time. It would make Australian organic producers more competitive on the international market and give producers converting to organic a market to sell ‘in conversion’ produce.

The Australian Certified Organic Standard would follow suit if the changes were made at a national level.

Michael said it’s important that this change is not seen to give producers short cuts to organic certification.

“They still need to manage the property according to the Australian Certified Organic Standard and they would need to prove that they've been operating the farm organically for three years.

“Under organic certification initial soil tests are taken on farms and they’re audited each year to make sure the property and its management complies with the Australian Certified Organic Standard,” Michael said. 

 

Australian organics industry enjoys record growth

The biennial Australian Organic Industry report was released today, highlighting key categories that are driving significant growth results.

The Australian Organic Market Report, commissioned by organic certifier Australian Organic, tracks trends in the Australian organic marketplace based on research by the Mobium Group, Swinburne University of Technology and ABS statistics.

The report found that consumption of certified organic food, cosmetics and household products are now valued at over $1.72 billion, representing a 15.4 percent compound annual growth rate since 2009.

Key findings across industry sectors driving growth:

  • Dairy is the fastest growing organic category in 2014, now estimated to be worth $113m
  • With compound growth of 127 percent 2011–2014, beef is the second fastest growing sector with a total value of $198m in 2014
  • Wine grape production increased by a staggering 120 percent between 2011 and 2014 and is worth $117m
  • Despite suffering during the drought, the organic grain category has grown by 20 percent with total crop values lifting by 67 percent in three years

Dr Andrew Monk, chairman of Australian Organic says that with demand for organics outstripping supply by up to 40 percent, the Australian retail market for certified organic products expected to continue to grow with private label products, certified organic processed foods and greater affordability driving this trajectory.

“One of the most significant findings was that 69 percent of primary food shoppers in Australia claim to have bought at least one certified organic product in the past 12 months. This demonstrates that organics are gaining greater penetration beyond the group of consumers who have traditionally purchased them,” says Monk.

“For the first time, we asked consumers their reasoning behind choosing organics with 49 percent of respondents claiming that they first purchased certified organics as they became aware of the impact food, fibre and cosmetics may have on their health. 16 percent began buying organic specifically because of a health crisis.”

The report has also revealed the perceived benefits of organic products are consistently associated with what organic food does not contain and is not produced with. The top six being: chemical free (80 percent), additive free (77 percent), environmentally friendly (68 percent), hormone and antibiotic free (meat) (60 percent), non-GM and free range (each 57 percent).

Other key Australian Organic Market Report 2014 findings include:

  • Organic purchases by those who are not categorised as green or sustainable shoppers increased from 24 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2014.
  • The Australian Certified Organic logo is by far the most recognised organic certification mark – a significant leap of 22.5 percent in awareness from 2012.
  • 32 percent of shoppers say they would only buy a product labelled as ‘organic’ if it is certified organic.
  • Australia still has the largest area of organic land in the world (22 million hectares) and there has been a 53 percent increase in fully certified organic land area between 2011 and 2014.
  • Exports of organic products have more than doubled from 2012 to 2014 with the organic export market now worth $350m.
  • Australian organic production (farm-gate) value is $508m, up 18 percent since 2012.
  • In non-alcoholic beverages, organic coffee saw the most dynamic retail value sales growth of 15 percent to reach $10m in 2013.

 

Xenophon announces Australian Organic Awards winners

Winners of the first awards to acknowledge the achievements of individuals and businesses in Australia’s organic industry, The Australian Organic Awards were announced on Friday last week.

Presented by independent senator, Nick Xenophon at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide, the inaugural Australian Organic Award winners were:

  • Australian Organic Young Leader Award, Aimee of TOM Organics feminine hygiene products
  • Export Market Award, Vanya Cullen from Cullen Wines
  • Best Certified Organic Small Store Retailer, Queensland franchise Wray Organic
  • Organic Innovation Award, Children’s health and snack food manufacturer Whole Kids
  • Industry Leadership Award, raw chocolatiers Loving Earth
  • Chairman’s Award for Organic Industry Integrity Monika Fiebig, a South Australian wholesaler of certified organic fruit and vegetables
  • The Organic Hall of Fame Award, Rosemary and Gavin Dunn from Four Leaf Milling

CEO of Australian Organic, Paul Stadhams says it’s great to be able to acknowledge people and businesses that have contributed so much to the growth of the organic industry.

“The Hall of Fame is an award I’m particularly proud to introduce because there are so many people who have laboured for such a long time to create the profitable, robust and growing industry that organics is today," he said.

“Rosemary and Gavin Dunne have volunteered so much of their time to develop the industry, as well as juggle a very successful milling business in South Australia.

“It’s thanks to early pioneers like the Dunns for developing market access niches and options and giving consumers a choice about what sort of food they eat. Congratulations to all the award winners.”

 

Strong demand for seasonal foods

A study has found the majority of consumers consider seasonal food to be tastier, more cost effective and convenient to purchase than non-seasonal food.

The Good Business Sense National Eating Habits Study 2014 involved 800 participants in NSW, VIC, QLD and WA (the sample of which was representative of the age and population distributions in Australia), and also involved input from a number of expert nutritionists, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, and food companies.

Key findings from the Good Business Sense National Eating Habits 2014 study include:

  • 76 percent of Australian shoppers consider seasonal food to be tastier than non-seasonal food
  • 69 percent of Australian shoppers agreed that seasonal foods were more cost effective
  • 55 percent of Australian shoppers thought seasonal foods were more convenient to purchase than non-seasonal food
  • Only 26 percent of Australian shoppers thought that seasonal food was better for the economy
  • 45 percent of Australian shoppers would not pay extra for seasonal food
  • 41 percent of Australian shoppers would pay up to 25 percent more for seasonal food
  • 42 percent of Australian shoppers think there is a suitable range of organic and seasonal food on the current market, 33 percent think there is not enough
  • 33 percent of Australian shoppers do not consider there to be enough seasonal or organic food on the market
  • 62 percent of Australian shoppers believe that markets have a good range of seasonal food, with 54 percent believing that Woolworths and 50 percent for Coles have a good range. Thomas Dux only rated 15 percent and IGA 17 percent
  • Woolworths was the most popular response for stocking a good range of seasonal food amongst the youngest age group 18-20, with 75 percent compared to the overall average of 54 percent
  • 66 percent of Australian shoppers said “no” to the belief that seasonal food needs to be organic to have seasonal benefits, while 34 percent said “yes”
  • Individuals place less emphasis on organically grown seasonal food as their age increases
  • ‘Seasonal food fills 50 percent of my shopping basket’ was found to be the most popular answer among Australian shoppers
  • 79 percent of Australian shoppers prefer seasonal food over non-seasonal food
  • 27 percent of those earning under $27K have no preference for seasonal food
  • The study also measured consumption patterns of pre-packaged foods finding that yoghurt was the most purchased at 70 percent, frozen foods were at 54 percent and instant noodles 39 percent
  • 62 percent of Australian shoppers said that artificial flavours in pre-packaged foods was the top reason for not purchasing them
  • 57 percent of Australian shoppers said nutritional labels were the most attractive packaging feature when buying a product for the first time
  • When it came to food labelling, “Easy to read and understand” got 45 percent of Australian shoppers, 32 percent for “size”, and 32 percent for “recipe ideas”
  • “Texture” of labels and packaging only received 14 percent, while “smell” and “illustrations” were each at 17 percent
  • Comments on packaging and labelling revealed: price, visibility of contents, and the origin of ingredients were attractive features

Good Business Sense founder and Managing Director Anne Roze said, “We found that consumers are not educated enough to understand that seasonal food could be better for the economy and environment. This offers huge potential from an educational perspective, with only around 25% of respondents currently recognising all the benefits of eating seasonably.”

 

Top five trends to impact the food industry in 2015

From “From Clean to Clear Label” and “Convenience for Foodies”, here’s the top five trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond.

Top food and beverage trends for 2015, as identified by Innova Market Insights:

  1. From Clean to Clear Label. Clean label claims are tracked on nearly a quarter of all food and beverage launches, with manufacturers increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origin of their products. With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural,” however, there is a need for more clarity and specific details. Consumers, retailers, industry and regulators are all driving more transparency in labelling.
  2. Convenience for Foodies. Continued interest in home cooking has been driven by cooking shows on TV and by blogging foodies. It is seen as fashionable, fun and social, as well as healthy and cost-effective. It has driven demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a wider use of recipe suggestions by manufacturers and retailers.
  3. Marketing to Millennials. The so-called Millennial generation, generally aged between 15 and 35, now accounts for about one-third of the global population and is tech savvy and socially engaged. They are well informed, want to try something different and are generally less brand loyal than older consumers. They want to connect with products and brands and know the story behind them.
  4. Snacks Rise to the Occasion. Formal mealtimes are continuing to decline in popularity and growing numbers of foods and drinks are now considered to be snacks. Quick healthy foods are tending to replace traditional meal occasions and more snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, with different demand influences at different times of day.
  5. Good Fats, Good Carbs. With concerns over obesity there is a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils that has seen rising interest in omega 3 fatty acid content as well as the return of butter to favour as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarines that may be high in trans-fats. In the same way, naturally-occurring sugar is being favoured at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

“The move from ‘clean’ to ‘clear’ labeling is a key trend for 2015, reflecting a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Meeting the needs of the Millennial consumer has also become a key focus, as has targeting the demands of the gourmet consumer at home, re-engineering the snacks market for today’s lifestyles and combating obesity with a focus on positive nutrition.”

 

New NASAA deal offers total transparency for organic supply chain

In an Australian first, global logistics company 20cube has been certified to handle and transport organic products both domestically and internationally.

The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) has partnered with 20cube as part of its efforts to boost domestic and export opportunities for Australian organic produce, particularly in China.

NASAA general manager Ben Copeman said the 20cube deal NASAA will offer organic producers complete product integrity from the paddock to the retailer’s shelf.

“NASAA Certified Operators can now have all their certifications including NASAA, NOP, JAS, Chinese and Korean completed in one annual inspection by one inspector at the one time representing significant savings in time, logistics and expenses. 

“We can offer the distribution and outlets in China via our partnerships with CHC (Beijing WuYuHuaXia Management and Technique Center) and the Chinese Chamber of International Commerce, and can now deliver real supply chain visibility with 20cube,” he said.

“This deal will also help to enhance Australia’s reputation for clean and green food production with China’s rising middle class, who are demanding more Western-style, luxury food.”

20cube director, consulting and supply chain solutions John McNally said company employees had completed the same certification course as NASAA inspectors and last year carried out 30 biosecurity inspections in 14 countries.

“We understand the investment organic producers make to maintain their organic certification. They expect the supply chain will maintain the integrity of their products and demand the highest standards from their logistics and distribution partners,” he said.

In August 2014, long term NASAA employee, Wenpeng You was approved to undertake organic inspections within Australia for all organic categories: Plant Production, Processing, Animal Breeding and Aquaculture.

You is one of only a handful of inspectors who are approved to inspect to all four organic categories, and he is the first outside China to gain approval to inspect products according to Chinese regulations.

 

Organic farmer Steve Marsh faces $800,000 in costs

A West Australian organic farmer, who sought to sue his neighbour for $85,000 for allegedly contaminating his property with genetically modified canola, could now have to pay $800,000 in court costs.

In June, the Supreme Court rejected Kojonup farmer Steve Marsh's compensation case against his former childhood friend Michael Baxter, ABC Rural reports.

Marsh alleged that he lost his organic certification on more than half of his farm after GM canola blew onto his land from Baxter’s neighbouring property.

Following a three week hearing, Justice Kenneth Martin ruled in favour of Baxter, stating that although Marsh and his wife bought two causes of action against their neighbour – common law negligence involving the breach of duty to ensure that the GM seeds were contained on his property, and the tort of private nuisance – they only claimed financial damages.

The organic farmer announced his decision to appeal the court's ruling in July, which is still pending.

Justice Kenneth Martin has now ruled to allow limits on costs to be removed, given what he said was the “unusual difficulty, complexity and not to mention an undeniable importance of the matter”.

In orders handed down on Friday, Justice Martin said the draft estimate of taxed costs and disbursements claimed by Mr Baxter against Mr Marsh was $803,989.

That included almost $339,000 in fees to Mr Baxter's legal team to prepare the case.

The awarding of costs is subject to any application for a stay of orders pending the outcome of the appeal.

Justice Martin also said attempts by Marsh's legal team to show Baxter did not ultimately bear the primary responsibility for costs in the case, were "wholly misplaced".

“To allow the plaintiffs' application for disclosure by Mr Baxter in respect of any agreements from the PGA [Pastoralists and Graziers Association], Monsanto or Mr Baxter's crop insurer would, on my assessment, very much amount to the sanctioning of an impermissible fishing expedition,” Justice Martin said. 

 

Beekeeper joins NASAA to drive organic certification

Beekeeper and former grazier Peter Hastie has joined the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) as industry liaison officer.

Hastie’s role at NASAA will see him charged with developing the organic, biodynamic and sustainable agricultural industries across Australia.

Formerly managing livestock grazing operations in NSW and the Northern Territory, Hastie established and ran a small localised food hub out of New England and ran his own property valuation business. He is now an organic beekeeper and an artisan produce enthusiast.

He is also a member of Biodynamic Agriculture Australia and is an ex-vice president and founding member of the not for profit Mano River Sustainability and Development Association (MRSDA).

Hastie’s role will be to work with all sectors of Australia’s organic industry, to educate industry and consumers on organic, biodynamic and sustainable agricultural practices, and to assist operators to gain organic certification. He replaces Alex Mitchell who resigned in 2013.

“I’m passionate about the development of sustainable agricultural production and natural resource management,” Hastie said.

“I look forward to learning a lot and to developing opportunities that strengthen and grow Australia’s organic and biodynamic industry.”

The appointment comes after 12 months of internal restructuring to refocus NASAA on growing domestic and export opportunities for Australian organic produce, particularly in Asia.

In August 2014, NASAA made history with one of its inspectors approved to inspect to Chinese regulations, the first person outside of China to receive this level of accreditation.

 

Australian Organic pushes for China

Australian Organic has appointed a new trade ambassador and facilitator to get organic products into the Chinese market.

The newly appointed Jessica Rudd will use her knowledge of China to help move organic products into China.

Rudd has spent the past five years living in Beijing and says she was often frustrated with the lack of availability of certified organic goods from Australia.

Chinese consumers are increasingly drawn to clean, green, safe imports.

“The Chinese government is doing a great job of lifting people out of poverty and consumers spend big on their children,” Rudd said.

“I’m honoured to be invited to use my China story to help Australian businesses, big and small, taking advantage of the potential for growth into that market. I want to see my Chinese mates gaining access to the fabulous range of high-quality products our country has to offer.”

Australian Organic commercial manager, Joanne Barber, said organics is big business in China.

“China has 1.3 billion people. One certified organic home delivery company there has a customer base of over 400,000 families.

“The biggest barriers to exporting to China are the language and cultural differences.”

Australian Certified Organic already offers certification through China’s most well-known and respected certification company, the Organic Food Development Center (OFDC), and it’s carrying out the first round of audits for Chinese certification in September.

Next month Australian Organic is running Organic Awareness Month, which aims to encourage consumers to purchase at least one certified organic product, and to promote the benefits of organic consumption and production.

Running from 1 to 31 October, the campaign will be split into four sectors:

  • Allowed inputs 
  • garden and farm
  • Organic skincare and cosmetics
  • Organic beverages 

Organic food producers and retailers from each sector will be profiled and their products promoted on a Facebook page. Consumers will be invited to participate in Q&As with certified organic farmers, retailers and Australian Organic ambassadors (chef Pete Evans and There Kerr), as well as participate in a Vote to Win style competition.

 

Q&A with five:am founder, David Prior

Founded in 2011, organic yoghurt brand five:am was recently purchased by PZ Cussons Australia and New Zealand for  £44.1 million.

Part of the international consumer products group, PZ Cussons Plc, the domestic business also recently acquired baby food brand Rafferty’s Garden.

"I’m delighted that five:am has chosen a great home for the future,” founder David Prior said. “The cultural fit with PZ Cussons was apparent immediately and I’m sure the business will flourish under its ownership.”

Prior, who took a few minutes out of his schedule to tell us about his work, will remain involved in the company once the sale is completed.

Name:
David Prior

Company name:
five:am organics

Title:
Managing director

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job?
Financial, customer relationship, managing banks, revenue and profit growth, direction of the five:am brand, development of a strong HR team

What training/education did you need for your job?
There is a lot of on the job training. Most of my experience prior to five:am was through my family businesses. I developed a strong work ethic by working from the age of 7 for my dad. Formal education – I completed my MBA at the university of Melbourne. 

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
Building the five:am business from scratch to market in 12 months. This included the establishment of the plant, recipes, package design, distribution and marketing strategies, as well as putting together a team of passionate, qualified individuals.

Biggest daily challenge?
Being content with the fact that I’m not surfing.

Biggest challenge in the food manufacturing industry at the moment?
Eroding margins through a lack of innovation/differentiation.

What makes Australia’s food and beverage manufacturing industry stand out from that of other markets? 
Cleanliness of our environment, the security of our food supply chain, strength and diligence of our regulatory bodies such as the ACO (Australian Certified Organic).

Can you detail the growth that five:am has experienced since its launch in 2011? What do you attribute it to?
Turnover for FY12  was $7 million; it was $22 million for FY13; and it reached $35 million in FY14. I put this down to our great tasting quality products, achieving and maintaining an accessible price point, the ongoing support of major supermarkets and our loyal consumers. 

How will the recent sale of five:am to PZ Cussons affect the business?
PZ Cussons was chosen as the best new home for five:am due to alignment of values. They are a perfect match and will be able to respect the five:am brand and maximise opportunities here and overseas.

What will the next 12 months involve for five:am?
Greater penetration into Asia, innovation for our local market, greater engagement with our local consumers.
 

Gippsland Dairy Organic Yogurt

Product name: Gippsland Dairy Organic Yogurt

Product manufacturer: Gippsland Dairy

Ingredients: (Vanilla flavoured yogurt): Organic milk, Organic sugar, Milk solids, Water, Rice starch, Natural flavours, Thickener (Locust Bean Gum), Food acid (Citrus acid), Yogurt cultures

Packaging: 900g tub

Shelf life: Once opened, consume within 3 days

Product manager: Lynley Radford, General Manager of Sales and Category on Gippsland Dairy

Brand website: https://www.gippslanddairy.com.au/

What the company says
This month Gippsland Dairy introduces a new range of Organic yogurts.

The Gipplsand Dairy Organic range will consist of 450g tubs in Vanilla, Mango and Blackberry & Raspberry flavours and 900g tubs in Vanilla and Natural flavours. This product line will be available exclusively in Woolworths from late-August 2014.

The Gippsland Dairy Organic range is Australian Certified Organic (ACO), one of the most respected and rigorous standards in the world for organic production. The new range has been carefully crafted to cater to the growing number of Australians who are looking for organic food products. Gippsland Dairy Organic is also free of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.

Gippsland Dairy is one of the top five yogurt brands in the country and the latest move is set to make it accessible to even more Australians.

NASAA inspector first to scrutinise organics on behalf of China

A National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) inspector has become the first outside of China to gain approval to inspect products according to Chinese regulations.

Earlier this month, Chinese organic certifier, Beijing WuYue HuaXia Management and Technique Centre, approved NASAA employee, Wenpeng You, to conduct organic inspections within Australia and for all organic categories: Plant Production, Processing, Animal Breeding and Aquaculture.

NASAA general manager, Ben Copeman, said it can now offer its clients access to the Chinese export market.

“NASAA has delivered on its promise, done the hard work and is now physically in the field conducting inspections helping its operators to achieve Chinese Certification,” he said.

“Applications have started coming in, and to date, NASAA Certified Organic has received applications from a number of wineries and beef producers from across Australia.

“If the number of applications warrants it we will send further Australian based, NASAA employed inspectors to Beijing for comprehensive training to the Chinese Organic regulation,” he said.

NASAA certified operators can now have all their certifications including NASAA, NOP, JAS, Chinese and Korean completed in one annual inspection, representing significant savings in time, logistics and expenses. 

“I have said all along that the first inspections should be completed by the end of August.

“The official certifications should be completed by within 30 to 40 days of this, so therefore the first product should be eligible to be exported to China by mid to late October,” Copeman said.

 

Five:am introduces organic baby yoghurt

Five:am has released the first certified organic baby yoghurt to be available at major supermarkets, that can be introduced to baby’s diet from 6 months of age.

Made with whole organic milk and live cultures, five:am has no added sugar, no preservatives and nothing artificial.

The yoghurt comes in 170g resealable tubs and will also be available in a 70g squeezie from the end of August.

The release is the latest move from the yoghurt manufacturer, which was purchased by Cussons Australia and New Zealand for £44.1 million in early August.

Five:am was founded in 2011 and has its manufacturing operations in south-east Melbourne. David Prior, founder of five:am, will continue to be involved with the business following completion of the deal.

Five:am is being acquired on a cash and debt free basis and is expected to be earnings enhancing in the current financial year.

 

Formula manufacturer receives China accreditation

Tatura Milk Industries (TMI) has been registered as an overseas production enterprise for infant formula by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China.

TMI is Bellamy’s organic infant formula manufacturing partner in Australia, and certification will allow Bellamy to immediately re-commence exporting to China.

Bellamy is now part of only a handful of companies who are certified organic by both Australian and Chinese authorities.

On 23 July, Bellamy’s Organic listed on the stock exchange, and managing director Laura McBain, said China is an important market for the company, after a strong period of growth over the past few years.

The certification will allow Bellamy’s to continue with their growth strategies in China, after their access to the Chinese market was previously restricted due to a change in regulation.

 

Five:am yoghurt brand bought for £44.1 million

PZ Cussons Australia and New Zealand has purchased organic yoghurt manufacturer, five:am for £44.1 million.

Part of the international consumer products group, PZ Cussons Plc, the domestic business has achieved strong growth in the food and nutrition category in the past 12 months, including the acquisition of baby food brand. Rafferty’s Garden.

“It’s another exciting step for the Australian business and reflects our strategy of developing and acquiring leading brands in their respective categories,” Nigel Simonsz, chief executive of PZ Cussons Australia and New Zealand.said. “We see significant potential for five:am and, together with Rafferty’s Garden, we are building a strong portfolio of nutritious Australian food brands alongside our well-known brands in personal care and home care such as Radiant, Morning Fresh, Original Source and Imperial Leather."

Five:am was founded in 2011 and has its manufacturing operations in south-east Melbourne. David Prior, founder of five:am, will continue to be involved with the business following completion of the deal.

"I’m delighted that five:am has chosen a great home for the future,” he said. “The cultural fit with PZ Cussons was apparent immediately and I’m sure the business will flourish under its ownership,” he said.

Five:am is being acquired on a cash and debt free basis and is expected to be earnings enhancing in the current financial year.

 

Vineyard busted for falsely claiming organic status

 NASAA has won an injunction in the Federal Court against Kings Court Vineyards, restraining the Victorian grower from claiming its produce is certified organic.

A statement released by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture (NASAA) claims that the organic certifier never certified Kings Court Vineyards and will be seeking the maximum claimable in damages and costs against the vineyards’ operators, Zeno and Duran Ayhan.

NASAA general manager Ben Copeman said the organisation is committed to truth in labelling and would rigorously pursue any producer fraudulently claiming certification.

“We are prepared to take similar action to protect our integrity, certification process and brand against any business claiming to be certified organic when it is not,” he said.

“This case is not only about NASAA protecting its brand and reputation but also about defending the brand value and integrity of our certified operators.

“Our certified operators spend many thousands of dollars to maintain their certification, perfect their organic products and grow their brands and images.

“Certified organic produce commands a premium from consumers who choose to eat food that is free of synthetic fertiliser and pesticide residues, or genetically modified organisms. That premium only exists, however, if the consumer can trust the integrity of the organic label,” Copeman said.

Earlier this year, a number of organic wholesalers in Sydney and Melbourne alerted NASAA that Kings Court Vineyards was claiming to be certified organic by NASAA when it was not. In June, the Association sought an injunction in the Federal Court of Australia to stop Kings Court Vineyards from claiming it was NASAA certified and from using the NASAA Certified Organic label on its products.

Zeno and Duran Ayhan have signed undertakings to destroy all copies of the fraudulent document that purports to be a Certificate of Registration issued by NASAA. The pair have also been forbidden from claiming they’re certified organic, unless they gain genuine certification.

 

Australian Organic announces Awareness Month

This October, Australian Organic will urge Australians to purchase an organic certified product as part of their latest awareness campaign.

Australian Organic ambassador and celebrity Chef Pete Evans will front Australian Organic Awareness Month.

“I have been an ambassador for Australian Organic for a long time now,” Pete Evans said. “To have the opportunity to help educate Australians not only on the benefits of organic products, but also the incredible range available is why I want to be part of this exciting month.”

“People tend to think that certified organic products are limited to food and produce,” said Paul Stadhams, CEO of Australian Organic. “However we have over 14,000 registered products on our database that cover everything from food to make-up, textiles and more. Australian Organic Awareness Month aims to promote this fact.”

Each week in October a different organic industry will be highlighted and promoted. These will be split into four sectors:

  • Allowed inputs – garden and farm
  • Organic skincare and cosmetics
  • Organic beverages
  • Organic food

Producers and retailers from each sector will be profiled and their products promoted on a Facebook page, which will launch in September.

Shoppers will be invited to participate in Q&A’s with certified organic farmers, retailers and Australian Organic ambassadors during the month as well as a Vote to Win style competition offering various prizes including cash and products.

“One of the key programs for this campaign will be our Vote to Win competition,” Stadhams said. “The competition will run through a Facebook page and customers will be asked to vote for their favourite certified organic product. Details on the products including what they are, what they are made of and where they are sold will be available on the page.” 

 

Significant difference between organic and conventional food

A new study led by Newcastle University, UK has found organic crops and crop-based food contain up to 69 percent more key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops.

The study, which is said to be the largest of its kind, recruited a team of international experts to analyse 343 studies into the compositional differences between organic and conventional crops.

The researchers found that organic fruit, vegetables and cereals provide additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between one-two extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day, in addition to significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals when compared to conventional crops.

“This study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals,” said Newcastle University Professor of Ecological Agriculture and lead researcher of the study, Carlo Leifert.

“This constitutes an important addition to the information currently available to consumers which until now has been confusing and in many cases is conflicting.”

According to the researchers, the study represented the most “extensive analysis of the nutrient content in organic vs conventionally-produced foods ever undertaken,” and that the findings contradict those of the 2009 UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned study which found that there no significant differences between organic and non-organic crops.

Leifert says that in contrast to the FSA commissioned study which based its conclusions on only 46 publications covering crops, meat and dairy, Newcastle’s meta-analysis is based on data from 343 peer-reviewed publications on the composition difference between organic and conventional crops now available.

“The main difference between the two studies is time,” says Leifert.

“Research in this area has been slow to take off the ground and we have far more data available to us now than five years ago”.

The study found that concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were between 18-69 percent higher in organically-grown crops. Substantially lower concentrations of a range of the toxic heavy metal cadmium were also detected in organic crops, together with lower nitrogen concentrations – concentrations of total nitrogen were 10 percent, nitrate 30 percent and nitrite 87 percent lower in organic compared to conventional crops. 

The study also found that pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in conventional crops than organic ones.

 “The organic vs non-organic debate has rumbled on for decades now but the evidence from this study is overwhelming – that organic food is high in antioxidants and lower in toxic metals and pesticides,” said Leifert.

“But this study should just be a starting point.  We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional crops, now there is an urgent need to carry out well-controlled human dietary intervention and cohort studies specifically designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic food.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition and jointly funded by the European Framework 6 programme and the Sheepdrove Trust.