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Organic foods set to take market share Featured
09 November 2013 Posted by 

Organic foods set to take market share

ORGANIC foods are set to gain a bigger slice of the market share as more consumers recognise what has been described as the “inherent value” of chemical-free food.

Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) director Dr Andrew Monk said research indicates organic farming revenue will increase by close to 15 per cent this year with six out of every 10 shoppers now buying organic at least occasionally.

“Organic food represents a healthy lifestyle and environmentally-friendly food production, a focus on animal welfare and other values that more people are taking an interest in and are willing to support,” Dr Monk said.

It is a trend that could benefit areas on the outskirts of cities throughout Australia that are under pressure from population growth.

As such, farmers are being forced to think outside the square and often to make-do on smaller areas of land.

Hawkesbury Harvest board member David Mason said organic farming was one form of “niche marketing” that could work on smaller plots.

“Organics is a viable way to farm small areas of land so long as you identify your market,” Mr Mason said.

“You don’t need vast areas and can achieve good returns through farmers’ markets, supplying restaurants and selling direct to the wholesale market.”

Matt and Sue Simmons from Swallow Rock Organics in Ebenezer, NSW mainly grow gourmet potatoes and kale. The couple could be said to have picked the right crops.

“We put in two crops of potatoes a year and we never have enough to meet demand at the farmers’ markets,” Matt said.

“And at the moment we are supplying a wholesaler with 100 bunches of kale a week, but if we could supply it, they would take 400.”

The Simmons work a property that has been in Sue’s family for four generations. Originally a citrus orchard its sandy soils are perfect for growing “spuds”.

“The citrus trees were pulled out in the 1980s,” Matt said. “We started farming here about eight years ago using organic principles. About four years ago we had our soil tested and found that over time, and with a few floods, the chemicals used on the orchard had leached away.”

So began a three-year process to gain organic certification.

“It’s been an expensive process,” Sue said. “But we felt very strongly about going organic and know that this way we can get a better return for our produce.”

The Simmons believe organic farming means healthy soils, and healthy soils grow healthy food.

“A lot of our customers are very concerned about the high rates of cancer today and feel eating organic is a way to reduce the number of chemicals in their system,” Sue said.

According to Matt, “food miles”, sourcing local produce, is another emerging trend as consumers look to support a more sustainable approach to agriculture.

“People are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of farming and the distance produce travels before it hits the shelves,” he said.

BFA’s Dr Monk said studies suggest organic farming is also more resilient and adaptable to changing conditions wrought by climate change.

While the higher cost of organic food is often seen to be prohibitive, Dr Monk said “it’s not all about money”.

“What we hope to continue to see in Australia is an increasing willingness to pay for the sustainable production costs of good food. Then the environment, our farmers, and consumers all benefit,” he said.



editor

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Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.