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Significant Increase In Organic Exports From NZ

The Organic Products Exporters Group (OPEG) – the peak industry body for the growing organic export sector – reported a significant increase in the value of organic exports to June, 2000. The results of its annual survey of exporter members were presented to the body’s AGM on Thursday, August 17th.

Survey results showed that New Zealand certified organic exports reached over NZ$60 million for the year 1999-2000. This was an increase of 77% on the previous year’s figure of NZ$34.08m. The survey was administered by Trade New Zealand and received responses from 34 out of the 40 exporter members of OPEG.

Of significance is the growth of the European export market by nearly $18 million to $28.7 million. The US market has also increased sharply from $1.3 million the previous year to $8.02 million for 1999-2000.

Japan is showing a slight decrease, with only 25% of total exports ($15.1 million), versus 60% two years ago ($17.5 million). This can be directly attributed to the considerable increase in demand from both Europe and the United States. A further cause for the decline in exports to Japan has been the uncertainty regarding market access and the risk of fumigation to fresh produce. This uncertainty has resulted in a significant decrease in the volume of fresh produce eg squash, exported to Japan.

Fresh fruit exports have nearly doubled, reaching $47.8 million versus $23.2 million last year.

Another significant increase is reflected in the meat and wool sector reaching a $1.3 million – an increase from just under half a million last year.

MARKET June 2000
($NZ million) June 1999
($NZ million) June 1998
($NZ million) June 1997
($NZ million) June 1996
($NZ million)
Japan 15.10 16.12 17.50 15.75 5.28
Europe 28.70 11.07 8.00 2.10 2.56
USA 8.02 1.30 1.40 1.50 1.63
Australia 2.82 1.79 1.30 0.62 0.89
Other 5.55 3.80 0.50 0.02 0.08
Total 60.19 34.08 28.70 19.99 10.44

The Director of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Otago University - Dr Hugh Campbell – commented that these figures ‘showed that the organic sector had a high degree of vitality and dynamism and should grow to become a significant contributor to our export earnings’. Dr Campbell also commented that organics ‘had reached a similar level to the wine export industry only a few years ago’. Further, ‘by combining recent research findings indicating a NZ$32 million value to the organic domestic market in New Zealand, these figures suggest that total organic production in New Zealand is now likely to be over NZ$100 million’.

New Zealand has only recently entered the world market for organics. The value of total organic production in New Zealand in 1990 was estimated to be NZ$1.1 million. The new export figures exceed the current industry growth predictions which would deliver organic exports exceeding NZ$500 million in six years. Overall world growth in organic markets exceeds 20% per annum – a rate that has been sustained over the last 5 years – making it one of the fastest growing food sectors in the world.

Dr Campbell commented that ‘New Zealand is ideally placed to become a significant player in the world organic marketplace. We have an excellent growing environment, broad public sympathy for organics, a good market image, and, so far, no GMOs’.


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