Monthly updates from Niki Ford, CEO of Australian Organic Ltd


The past two months have offered significant opportunities to promote the Australian Organic industry both domestically and internationally.

September is Australian Organic’s biggest month of any year when it comes to growing awareness and this year the Australian Organic Awareness Month reached new heights for consumer engagement and retailer activity. September was also an enormous month in relation to advocacy on the legislative front, with continued discussion on the proposed amendments to the Gene Technology legislation and renewed support for domestic regulation.

October provided the opportunity to highlight trade between Australia and China whilst concurrently reinforcing Australia’s position as a leading nation for organic production.

AGM and Awards

I am looking forward to meeting more of you on my regional travels during November and at the Annual Industry Awards in a few weeks.


Niki Ford
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Organic Ltd


The Advisory committees have continued to communicate on matters relevant to each sector. An additional two horticulture representatives joined the committee in September, providing this committee with the numbers required for activation.

September 19 marked a significant day for the certified organic industry as AOL hosted a BBQ at Parliament house. This saw 80 Parliamentarians celebrate Australian Organic Awareness Month. Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, the Hon. Nola Marino MP and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP opened the celebration by recognising the importance of organic agriculture and the increased premium opportunities our industry provides.

“This is a really exciting growth industry,” Mr Fitzgibbon is quoted saying; “People are realising in the Agricultural sector that we have to chase the niche, premium markets. They are all looking for something different, many are looking for organic.”

Both Mr Fitzgibbon and Minister Marino represent electorates that have a growing number of certified organic producers (Hunter and Margaret River regions, respectively).


Domestic Regulation is our number one goal; a pivotal accountability that would support additional market access, well overdue consistency in the market, and consumer confidence both domestically and internationally.

During our September meeting we had confirmation that Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie plans to champion this intended outcome and has put organic domestic regulation on the AGMIN agenda for discussion with all State and Territory Agriculture Minsters. Senator McKenzie was quoted at the Parliamentary BBQ the following day by saying, “I learnt yesterday that we need to look at some domestic standards, please watch more from me and in particular from your State Ministers as it’s really important we ensure that this happens.”

A meeting earlier in the month with Queensland Agriculture Minister, the Hon Mark Furner, provided additional support to organic producers and domestic regulation discussions.


The proposed amendments to the gene technology regulations to exclude SDN-1 has caused much debate and conjecture. AOL met with Federal and State Ministers and Shadow Ministers across various portfolios to highlight the key issues to the deregulation while highlighting the key issues which may manifest should the amendments be passed.

Ongoing discussion will continue, however Senator McKenzie and Senator Birmingham’s office are well briefed to enable their understanding of the potential impacts this deregulation may have on the organic industry. We have by no means exhausted our conversation and stated position with the respective Senators and will continue to engage, represent and discuss the future for organic Agriculture and Trade relationships.


It was an honour to be invited by Bellamy’s Organic to present at the Organic Development seminar during the 4th China Special Food Conference in Zhuhai in October. China has a clear focus on ensuring their population has a higher quality of life as defined in their Health and Wellness 2030 strategy. It was encouraging to hear how ‘Special Foods’ such as organic products will play a significant role in this plan. An enormous opportunity lies ahead of Australian organic producers and manufacturers in this market.

Following productive meetings with a General Manager from FSANZ New Zealand office, we have also kicked-off our submission for Domestic regulation through FSANZ. AOL’s membership with AFGC is assisting the application process with additional guidance from senior executives on how to best navigate this process.


Our Chair, Martin Meek attended the NFF AGM during October. AOL’s position on the Gene Technology Amendments was highlighted during Adrienne Ryan’s, GM for Rural Affairs, report to the room – demonstrating the NFFs authentic representative role and for the first time providing an opportunity for certified organic producer’s collective voice to heard.

Australian Organic has been harshly ridiculed by other industry organisations for being apart of the NFF, suggesting that AOL has aligned with ‘Big Ag’. We will continue to unapologetically prosecute the organic industry’s agenda with ‘Big Ag’ organisations as we firmly believe growing our industry profile will provide future opportunity for our whole industry.

As Senator McKenzie suggested in September, “I’m looking forward to seeing the organic food production industry being a significant part of our government’s desire to see agriculture grow to $100 billion. And not just for Australians to be eating organics but for us to exporting to markets all around the world.”


This year’s Organic Awareness Month raised the bar higher than any previous year. Consumer engagement saw the Bud Organic Club grow in excess of 4,300 members over 4 weeks, POS material in-store at Woolworths for first time, catalogue advertising from all three major supermarkets as well as independent retailers such as GO Vita, Healthy Life Group, Market Organic and Hopper Group & Chapley IGA stores.

Other positive outcomes include:

80% of 2018 sponsors returned
3 major supermarkets involved
27.5 Million catalogues, print and
435 POS kits sent to retailers
14 Million real media reach
1 BBQ at Parliament house
1 TV cooking segment with Luke Hines
1 TV interview
3 radio interviews
4,500 more social media followers
4,300 more Bud Organic Club members

The Australian Organic Awareness Month campaign has grown year-on-year with 2019 exceeding our targets. We are already planning 2020, and how we can deliver another stellar campaign and provide more options for members to be involved.