New Zealand organics defy the downturn

Organic food production in New Zealand continued to grow strongly in 2009 despite the global economic downturn, a study has revealed.

Certified organic food and drinks contributed NZ$485m (£227m) to the New Zealand economy last year and the value was expected to top NZ$1bn (£468m) by 2013, the University of Otago research found.

The sector had grown from being worth just NZ$140m (£65m) in 2005 and now had 1145 certified organic farmers, producing on more than 124,000ha Derek Broadmore of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand said.

“This rapid growth shows a continuing concern about what is in our food, and how it is grown. There are also trends towards people buying more local and domestic products at organic specialty stores, and increasing their purchases of fresh products.”

New Zealand’s domestic market for organic products was worth NZ$315m (£147m), with exports to the likes of Europe, North America and Australia accounting for the remainder.

Sales of organic dairy products, which have increased almost 400% since 2007, were an important part of this export growth and NZ’s leading dairy co-op Fonterra is reportedly “actively recruiting” farmers to help meet organic demand.

The New Zealand situation is in stark contrast to the UK, where an Organic Market Report published by the Soil Association in April found that sales of organic products plummeted by 12.9% last year to £1.84bn.