The domestic market for organic products is booming but exporters are also enjoying strong growth. This year’s Australian Organic Market Report has revealed a jump in total export tonnage for 2018 of 13 per cent. In total, 30,155 tonnes of organic produce and products were exported to 61 different countries.
The U.S leads the way for demand with almost 40 per cent of organic exports by tonnage certified by ACO Certification Ltd and NASAA Certified Organic, followed by China (11 per cent), New Zealand (8 per cent), South Korea (8 per cent) and Singapore (6 per cent).
The top Australian export sectors for 2018 in dollar value were beef and veal ($354 million), nuts ($71 million), fruit ($58 million), vegetables ($41 million) and lamb/sheep meat ($41 million).
New Zealand has become the fastest growing market, displacing Japan from the top five list, thanks to a Kiwi thirst for Australian dairy and carbonated non-alcoholic drinks. South Korea is buying processed animal feedstuffs, while Singapore has emerged as a growing importer of dairy products and baby foods.
“Now a $2.6 billion-dollar industry, the Australian organic industry is reacting to significant international trends, as consumer demands for convenience-based products increase,” said Australian Organic general manager Niki Ford. “The growing interest in our products from other countries, and recognition of our certified Bud Logo highlighting authentic organic products, is very encouraging given that these past twelve months have been particularly harsh on our agricultural industry. It’s a testament to our organic industry that we have demonstrated growth in some agricultural sectors regardless of the obstacles.”
Americans love Aussie beef
The U.S continues to be the most important export destination in terms of share of total tonnage with a growth of 11 per cent since 2017. A leading U.S authority on natural products, Bob Burke of Boston-based Natural Products Consulting, said for many in the US, the perception of Australia being a health-conscious, clean living environment has a lot to do with the drive in demand for our organic products, particularly when it comes to beef.
“The notion that Australian organic beef is mostly grass fed without antibiotics or hormones, is of high quality and tastes great is highly appealing,” he said. “U.S consumers are also really interested in supply chain transparency. Plus, Americans are still largely a nation of meat eaters. Whilst there has been solid growth in ‘plant-based meat’ the category is still a tiny slice of the animal protein market. Most U.S consumers still enjoy meat and, whilst they might be consuming a little less of it, they are now wanting to choose higher quality products more than ever.”
Chinese market primed to grow
China also continues to be a big consumer of Australian organic exports despite the impact of recent regulations said David Thomas, President of the Australia China SME association, and CEO of Think Global Consulting which facilitates business opportunities between the two countries.
“China has made changes to e-commerce regulations, impacting on ‘daigous’ – intermediaries who buy Australian products on behalf of Chinese customers and send them to China. China is tightening up regulations for daigous wanting them to get officially registered, regulated and monitored which has had an impact on the export market. This, along with increasing the costs of compliance and product registrations, plus China-Australia political tensions, has had a short-term impact on Australia’s organic export numbers to China. However, I expect this to turn around quite quickly simply due to the imbalance in demand and supply.
“Demand will rise again as China’s growing middle class, and in particular aspirational Millennials have both created a massive market for consumer products globally. Living in a polluted environment with a growing awareness of health and wellness, they place a high premium on organic products from countries which they regard as clean, green, well-regulated and clearly authentic.”