Countdown switches to organic apples, as consumer demand soars

A growing demand for organic produce is behind a decision by Countdown supermarkets to stock only the organic variety of Braeburn apples.

Countdown will no longer stock conventionally-grown Braeburn apples and said the demand for organics is growing at more than twice the speed of the non-organic market.

Countdown's Head of Produce, Steve Sexton, said the supermarket chain is hoping to develop its organic range, particularly fresh produce, to make organic cheaper and more widely available.

"Our customers are telling us that the core reasons they choose to buy organic are the taste, their health and a desire to protect the environment," he said. 

"We've been working closely with our organic growers for several years now and these relationships help us remove some of the additional costs of growing organic and pass these savings onto our customers through lower prices," said Sexton.

Countdown's supplier of organic braeburn apples is BOSTOCK New Zealand, which started growing organic apples in 1996 and is the largest organic apple grower in Australasia. 

Owner John Bostock said they have seen a significant increase in demand for their range of organic products both here and globally.

"Growing healthy premium produce in partnership with nature is our priority," he said. 

"We want to leave the rivers and land in a good condition for future generations.  We started our grower journey as conventional farmers and after having young children and seeing the liberal use of pesticides and artificial substances, like many of our customers, we had concerns and this encouraged us to start looking for healthier alternatives."

In 1996 the company converted its farm to organic and now exports to more than 20 countries around the world.

Research shows that eight out of ten New Zealanders buy organic products at least fortnightly, and 75 per cent of those who are regular organic purchasers say they rely on certification to determine if a product is organic.