New Zealand's organic industry growing quickly, now worth $720 million

 A new report shows the organic sector is worth more than $720 million a year.
A new report shows the organic sector is worth more than $720 million a year. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand's organic industry is going from strength to strength, with the sector worth $723 million in 2020, according to a new report.

The industry's value has increased 20 percent - $123 million - since 2017, with much of that growth coming from organic dairy exports, according to Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), which commissioned the report.

Viv Williams, chief executive of OANZ, says the figures show the enormous potential the sector can have for the broader agricultural economy.

"We are a sector that already creates real economic value – more than $7250 on a per hectare basis – which ensures sustainable livelihoods. We are confident we can do more as we realise our full potential to expand further," Williams said.

"Our environmental contribution to biodiversity, water quality and key climate mitigation indices are measurable and scalable. 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."

According to the report, 58 percent of the sector's output is exported ($420.4 million) while 42 percent ($302.5 million) is consumed domestically. 

Organic dairy products account for the largest part of the sector, with exports worth $153.8 million last year, up 55 percent on 2017.

Fruit and vegetables comprised the second largest segment of the industry (worth $143 million) followed by the growing organic wine sector, which was worth $65 million - up 40 percent on 2017.

The biggest market for organic products is the US ($86.8 million), followed by China ($81.8 million) and Europe ($73.4 million).

A proposed Bill to regulate the organics industry is currently undergoing its second reading in Parliament. The Organics Product Bill would establish new requirements that products must meet before they can be certified as organic.

OANZ says while it supports the objectives of the Bill, the draft has numerous flaws that need to be addressed.