Growing Organic


Thought leadership from Gaz Ingram, Head of Future Land and Food.

Since 2008, the New Zealand Organic Sector Market Report has been commissioned by Organic Aotearoa New Zealand, an organisation that aims to make the world more sustainable through organics. The 2020/21 market report released online in late April shows strong and positive organic sector growth in the primary industry.

The report is based on a bi-annual survey of organic product sales data and production data. Regarded as the most comprehensive report for the sector, information is sourced from organic consumers, producers, retailers, exporters and certifiers.

This year the report addressed all aspects of the organic market including production statistics, exports and imports, consumer data, land use and sector components.

The report was fundamentally positive about the direction of the organic market. Total sector value was approximately $723 million in 2020, up from $600 million in 2017 – an increase of 20 percent.

The report noted increased consumer awareness of organics, as consumers become more aware of what they eat, food traceability and improved sector awareness. 81 percent of consumers surveyed bought organic products at least fortnightly, stating the most common reasons as:

  1. They’re more natural (74 percent)
  2. They’re perceived as spray and residue free (70 percent)
  3. They protect and promote family health (68 percent)

Committed organic farmers and growers are developing programmes to ensure the production of safe, quality foods to match consumer demand.

While total land area under organic certification dropped by 3.4 percent (3,029ha) compared to 2017, there are now 198 more certified organic operations than in 2017, an increase of 12 percent.

There was a 54 percent increase in operations converting to organic in 2020/21 compared to 2017. The use of softer (but efficacious) chemistry to meet consumer demand is increasing. Agrichemical and fertiliser companies are increasing investment in research and development of soft, organiccertified products as they become more aware of the consumer expectations.

Kiwifruit and viticulture are two standout organic sectors highlighted in the report. The organic wine sector has grown significantly in both the export and domestic markets (40 percent and 33 percent respectively) with a total value of $102 million. There is 2,238ha of organic vineyard, with more land currently under organic conversion.

The organic kiwifruit industry contributes over $70m of export earnings to New Zealand. Production is growing strongly, as Zespri continues to release exclusively organic Sungold licenses. The intention is to increase the planted area to over 800ha and volume to over 7 million trays.

In supporting the organic trend, Farmlands has continued to build not only its current product range but importantly, its knowledge base and involvement in the industry.

Looking back at the progress of the organic sector, both within Farmlands and the wider industry, I am proud of our team and our shareholders involved. With the many talented people committed and engaged in organics, we foresee further strong industry growth.

The full report can be downloaded at: