Organic sales boosted by trend toward eating-in

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 12th March 2009

The organic sector’s peak body has said that sales of organic produce have continued to rise despite the gloomy economic outlook, which threatens the strong growth the sector has recorded in recent years.

“Organic sales continue to increase because consumers are buying more organic products for home consumption rather than spending on more expensive items such as cars and TVs,” Andre Leu, Chair of the Organic Federation Australia, stated. “Market information from Australia, USA and Europe is showing a considerable increase in the sales of the types of organic products used to prepare meals, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, bread and meat.”

“Our members are telling us that sales have increased significantly,” OFA Director and Convenor of the Organic Traders’ and Consumers’ Network, Catriona Macmillan, reported. “While there is some evidence of a slowing in sales of some of the more expensive packaged organic products, this is more than compensated by the increase in all the other lines.”

“The global recession had no impact on the world’s largest organic trade show, Biofach in Germany,” Mr Leu added. “This year was the twentieth anniversary of Biofach. Over 46,000 trade visitors from 130 countries and 2,717 exhibitors spread over 12 halls participated in the largest global organic event. This is similar to 2008 when more than 2,600 exhibitors presented their products to 46,484 trade visitors from 116 countries.”

“Several countries gave presentations on their organic sectors with the consistent message that sales continue to expand,” he advised.

Mr Leu believes the sector has now begun the transition from niche to mainstream. “The organic industry is emerging from a small niche to a significant part of the Australian food industry,” he suggested. “A recent report showed that it is worth over $600 million. When we add flow-on industries such as the compost industry that is worth over $400 million it is easy to see that the organic industry is worth over a billion dollars to the Australian economy.”

The OFA is hopeful that governments will support the industry and generate jobs in the sector in the years ahead. “Governments need to partner with the Organic Federation of Australia to facilitate more farms, increase employment and expand the range of organic goods and services across all areas of Australia,” Mr Leu said.