Organic certifier setting the standard for a growing sector
If proposed government regulation of New Zealand’s organic sector goes ahead, BioGro NZ will be leading from the front. The country’s largest organic certifier has been setting the standard for organic excellence for 35 years.
Organics is a vibrant – and growing – market for New Zealand. A 2018 report by Organics Aotearoa NZ estimates the sector’s worth at $600 million.
The same report shows retail sales of organic products growing twice as fast as conventional products. Organic exports are up 42% to $355 million, and increases can be seen across all categories from fresh fruit and vegetables, to dairy, meat and wool.
Robyn Vickery, BioGro’s marketing and communications manager, believes the sector’s public profile has never been better. “Organics really has become a front-of-mind criteria for people when they’re choosing products.”
Yet, despite the growing consumer awareness, many people are unaware that New Zealand’s sector is currently unregulated.
This means that anyone can brand their product ‘organic’ without having New Zealand into line with global norms. Of the top 25 organic producer nations, only New Zealand and Australia currently lack a national standard.
The government acknowledges the need for regulation, and in May 2018 put forward a proposal for a National Organic Standard.
BioGro NZ believes that a standard will boost export opportunities, as well as increasing clarity and confidence for NZ producers and consumers.
If a standard is adopted, the 750 companies BioGro works with will be ahead of the curve.
To achieve certification they must go through a rigorous auditing and assessment process. For primary producers of livestock and agriculture, this includes a three year conversion period in which no chemical pesticides can be used.
Winning the BioGro stamp of approval requires a commitment to organic production that goes well beyond a branding buzzword. Because of this, BioGro sees their producers as the true champions of the sector – and it’s handing out the medals to prove it.
To celebrate their 35th anniversary, the organisation has awarded gold and silver logos to 200 producers in recognition of their long-standing commitment to organics.
The gold logo goes to producers with 25 years of certification and the silver to those with at least 15 years.
Recipients range from large corporations to family businesses, and showcase the diversity of organic production – from chocolate, to cosmetics, to compost.
Robyn believes the organic sector’s upwards trajectory is “all about conscious consumption. It really is becoming a mainstream approach to sustainability.”
She also sees a growing understanding of the holistic implications of choosing organic. While personal health is still a key factor motivating consumers, Robyn thinks people are starting to see past this.
“Organics is also about animal welfare, biodiversity and soil health. People are becoming more aware of what’s happening around them. They’re asking a lot more questions.”
For businesses interested in attaining organic certification, BioGro has a team of experts ready to talk.
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