The importance of organic certification in unlocking growing domestic and export markets and building consumer trust was highlighted at The State of Play in Organics seminar held by peak industry body, Australian Organic Limited (AOL), at Naturally Good 2021 in Sydney on Sunday.
AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, 6AM Agency Founder and Chief Executive Officer Gillian Fish, and Export Connect Founding Director, Najib Lawand, participated in the panel discussion presented at the trade show, which is the leading national exhibition for natural, organic and healthy brands.
One of the points most strongly communicated by Ms Ford as part of the session was the importance of the introduction of a mandatory standard around the use of the word “organic” – an issue currently under review by the Organics Industry Advisory Group assembled in December 2020.
“Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world, as we are currently one of the only developed countries without a mandatory domestic standard in place,” Ms Ford said.
“Unfortunately, the lack of regulation is letting producers and retailers down because misleading claims can be made on product labels with impunity. Buyers of organic goods should be able to have complete trust in the integrity of the product.
“For an industry already worth more than $2 billion, a mandatory standard will ensure our industry can reach its full potential and make use of every emerging opportunity.”
Ms Fish backed Ms Ford’s comments and said organic shoppers were increasingly looking for “trust marks”, or certification logos such as the Australian Certified Organic Bud trademark logo, to ensure their purchases are legitimate.
“The market is vibrant and growing, and for those who are predisposed to consider organic, a major barrier for them is around trust, and this can be enhanced if consumers can be certain of the organic claim through certification,” she said.
Export consultant, Mr Lawand, said bourgeoning international markets, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, were increasingly becoming more sophisticated and were now requiring proof of certification with supplier contracts.
“These are markets with a higher level of professionalism that will not accept a good that cannot prove its authentic certification,” he said.
Mr Lawand said these growing requirements from importers of organic goods were a positive sign of overall market development.
“The organic categories generating the most growth are hot beverages, baby food, condiments and spreads, snack foods and cereals, fruit and vegetables and meat. These are categories, uniformly, where we are seeing the most expansion. Australia is in a great position to take advantage of these markets, as we already have a reputation for producing high-quality, reliable and trusted products,” Mr Lawand said.
Given importers were demanding certification, and domestic shoppers were seeking out trust marks, Ms Ford said The Bud was well positioned as it already had widespread consumer recognition.
“Our research indicates consumers already see The Bud as a symbol for authentic organic goods, it’s a well-known representation of certified products here and around the world.”