Rising organic market gets pandemic push

Organic products
Organic products

Organic products are increasingly finding their place in major grocery and independent grocery stories, with word on the ground being that consumers are reaching for more organic products during the coronavirus lockdown.

The market for organic products in Australia is valued at $2.6 billion in the ‘Australian Organic Market Report 2019’, which reveals that domestic sales of certified organic products increased by 15% in 2018.

The report cites gains for 18 out of 20 organic product categories in that year, with the strongest rises in skin care/cosmetics, non-alcoholic beverages and packaged meals.

Of the organic consumers surveyed for the report, two-thirds began buying organic products in response to health issues as they looked for alternative lifestyles.

According to Australian Organic Ltd (AOL) CEO Niki Ford, the rise in consumer awareness of organic product benefits is evident, with 55% of surveyed organic buyers in this country saying they look for certification logos to check if a product’s organic claims are authentic.

Ms Ford predicts there will be no stopping the momentum shown in the report, with continued growth in the organic category a “certainty”.

“As consumers are connected every moment of the day to information and influence, an increasing amount are looking for alternatives to what they’ve been purchasing,” she said.

“The three strongest considerations for purchase are chemical free, environmentally friendly and additive free, according to the [report].”

30 years of organic certification

AOL is the owner of “Australia’s most recognised certification logo”, the ‘bud’.

Ms Ford says Australia has no domestically enforced regulation around the use of the word ‘organic’, and a product from an undefined “natural” source can be considered ‘organic’, Ms Ford says, but certification marks are enforced when products leave Australia.

This means that the only way a product can be deemed authentically organic in Australia is through a certification mark such as the bud. The lack of domestic regulation creates confusion for consumers and enables those delivering fake organics to profit from premium prices despite an inferior product.

AOL has been lobbying on this issue for the past year at both federal and state government levels, with growing support from the federal Agriculture Minister’s office, according to Ms Ford.

“Consumers are smart, and an increasing number are selecting certified organic products because they know they can trust them,” Ms Ford said, adding that organic companies are advised to take heed of what consumers want.

“Ask your consumer what they want,” she said. “Don’t produce what you believe they want. Do some research, offer a diverse range and review your range regularly to understand performance. Most businesses have a long list of products that don’t sell.”

In the June issue of Retail World, we find out the latest news and trends on the organic market.