NZ Organic Sector: $720 Million Industry

A new report has shown New Zealand’s organic sector is now a $720 million industry and growing steadily.

According to Organics Aotearoa New Zealand, domestic and global demand for organics saw the sector's value grow 20 percent in the three years to 2020. It is now worth an estimated $723 million, up from $600m in 2006, with an average growth rate of 6.4 percent a year.

“Ours is a diverse sector ranging from the organic operations of corporate leaders like Fonterra and Zespri to community initiatives to promote local food security, as well as mental wellness,” noted Organics chief executive Viv Williams, adding that the report shows how the organic sector reflects New Zealand as a nation.

“Our social value serves the entire supply chain by giving farmers and producers more satisfaction as well as providing assurances to consumers through an internationally recognised certification system that is more than four decades old.”

As well as surveying commercial operations, the report contains the first national survey of the community garden sector, 91 percent of which say they use organic practices. Organic dairy products make up the largest part of the sector, with exports worth $153.8m, up 55 percent from 2017.

Demand for organic wine is also growing, up 40 percent on 2017 to $64m last year, while the organic staple of fruit and vegetable was worth $143m on modest 6 percent growth.

In February, Organics Aotearoa was granted $212,500 in funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries under the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund. The money is to go towards developing a three-year organic sector strategy. The total project was costed at $376,000, with the balance made up of cash and sector-in-kind contribution.