Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
There has been a steady increase in the number of certified organic producers in New Zealand since the beginning of the BIO-GRO certification programme in 1983. Currently there are approximately 260 BIO-GRO certified producers and 45 with Demeter certification. Less than 0.1% of land available for agriculture is in organic production. The total value of organic production has increased from $1.5M in 1991 to $10M in 1995 and growth predictions suggest that this level might increase to $50M by the year 2000.
The New Zealand organic food industry is predominantly production rather than market lead and as with the conventional food industry is export dominated. The production of organically grown food for the domestic market continues to increase slowly, however the development of the local industry is hindered by the lack of a coordinated distribution system and committed consumer demand. Public education is minimal, largely being limited to that provided by companies marketing organic products. A current issue for smaller organic producers is the cost/benefit of being certified.
The majority of companies involved in the organic food industry are small, however since 1990, Wattie Frozen Foods (WFF) (subsidiary of Heinz) and the Kiwifruit Marketing Board have shown increasing interest in organic production. This has encouraged some growers in specific areas of New Zealand to adopt organic growing techniques. WFF currently exports certified whole beans, carrots, sweetcorn, potatoes and peas to Japan and the USA. In the 1995 season, 620,095 trays of organic kiwifruit were exported to the USA, Japan and Europe.
The New Zealand Trade Development Board (Tradenz) established the Organic Products Exporters Group in 1995 with the aim of bringing together all parties interested in the organic export business.
The New Zealand government still does not provide any financial incentives for conversion from conventional to organic production unlike many other countries. In addition there is no legislation relating to the use of the words 'organic' and 'certified organic'. Despite this lack of support, the domestic and export industries in New Zealand continue to expand.