Martin Oliver reports
Latest available figures show that the Australian organic market is worth about $1.8 billion a year, and growing by about 15 per cent annually.
Australia now has its own mark for certified organic products that is increasingly finding its way onto products available on supermarket shelves. Look for a design featuring a white vertical gum leaf against a green background, together with the words ‘Organic Certified’.
Chosen in part because of its simplicity, this design was unveiled in August 2016, and had its official launch in November. It is voluntary, and free to use by those companies that qualify. A few dozen companies are now putting it on their packaging, and that number is growing.
The two driving forces behind this symbol were the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA) and the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council (OISCC.) It is the culmination of 12 years of discussion within the industry.
Because Australian law currently allows a product to be described as ‘organic’ regardless of its origin, certification is critically important.
Criteria must be met
Australian certification requires at least 95 per cent organic content, and various other criteria must also be met. Standards across Australia’s different certification bodies were harmonised with the creation of a unified Australian Certified Organic Standard in 2006.
Each of Australia’s seven certification bodies, AUS-QUAL, Australian Certified Organic, Demeter, NASAA Organic, Organic Food Chain, Safe Food Queensland, and Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers, uses a different logo. This makes identifying organic products a little confusing. The new symbol helps in the identification of organic products, and provides organic consumers with an added layer of confidence. Where used, it appears alongside the certifier’s own logo.
Another important role of the new simplified symbol is to serve as an international trademark for Australian organic produce, equivalent to USDA Organic (in the US) and the EU’s organic symbol. It will facilitate exports because companies in the organics industry will no longer need to obtain multiple certifications to access markets in different countries.