Organic growth boom
DEMAND for organic food is soaring and producers are getting on board.
The latest Australian Organic Market Report says the overall industry is now worth $2.4 billion a year.
The industry has a farmgate production value of
$1.6 billion and since 2012 it has grown by about
13 per cent annually. Nationwide, 35 million hectares of land is under certified organic management, more than in any other country.
The report says in Tasmania 4769ha of land has been fully certified organic or is under organic conversion.
The state’s 127 certified organic operations include 72 producers. One of those is Lauran Damen, who runs Kindred Organics with wife Henriette.
The couple started down the organic path almost a decade ago and Mr Damen was not surprised to see how much the industry was expanding.
“We were eating all the things ourselves we were growing organically and we liked it more that way,” he said.
“We converted the farm in stages. We were doing some organic, some conventional because we had to pay the bills, but now we’re all organic.”
The couple grows grains such as oats, spelt and quinoa for value-adding and sales to health-food shops in Tasmania and interstate. They also produce organic beef.
Mr Damen said while there was good demand for organic meat, a lack of Tasmanian supply was a brake on the market.
Organic dairying has grown rapidly in Tasmania recently. The state has 6 per cent of Australia’s organic dairy producers and 8 per cent of processors. Horticulture is the next biggest organic sector with 5 per cent of fruit growers.
Nationwide there are 4028 accredited organic operators, up 7 per cent from 2016.
Beef production accounts for the largest area of organic land, particularly in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
However, about 43 per cent of organic producers are involved with the fruit industry.
The report values demand for organic food in the Australian grocery sector at about $1.1 billion a year. Last year organic exports, to more than 60 countries, were worth
$717 million. Countries in South-East Asia made up about 35 per cent of export sales, followed by the United States with 26 per cent.
Last year demand from China lifted to 15 per cent, a big jump from 9 per cent in
In 2017, 384,000 more Australian households purchased organic grocery items compared with the previous year.
We were doing some organic, some conventional because we had to pay the bills, but now we’re all organic.
— Lauran Damen
MODERN FARM: Lauran Damen in a field of spelt at Kindred.