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Plans For Major NZ Force At Premier Organics Fair

New Zealand organic food companies exhibiting at BIOFACH 2000 last month have returned convinced of the need for a stronger New Zealand participation next year.

BIOFACH is the world’s largest trade fair for organic foods and natural products. This year’s event took place from 17 - 20 February, in Nuremberg, Germany.

“We are already laying the groundwork for a bigger and better presence next year,” says Jon Manhire, executive director of O.P.E.G. “BIOFACH 2001 will be a major focus of our ongoing European activities, and a launching pad for new companies and products coming into the organics market.”

A large increase in attendance at BIOFACH 2000 points to organics as the most significant growth sector in the world food market. Exhibitor numbers were up 14 percent over the previous year, and visitor numbers up 16 percent. In total, the fair attracted 1,456 exhibitors from 56 countries, an estimated 25,000 visitors from the world over.

The New Zealand contingent, supported by Trade NZ, comprised ENZA, ZESPRI International, NZ Organics, Waitaki Apiaries, and O.P.E.G., (representing 46 members).

O.P.E.G. chairman Stuart Abbott, of ZESPRI International, has attended BIOFACH for the past four years. He says this year’s fair was the best organised yet, and was the most international. Countries with a major presence included Italy and Argentina. There were also newcomers such as China, and several African nations.

“It’s the place you must be if you’re serious about the export of organic products”, Abbott comments. “The fair is expanding quickly and as well as putting your products before prospective new buyers, it is convenient for consolidating relationships with your existing buyers, who are more than likely to be there.”

BIOFACH is also the place to meet influential officials. Reports Manhire, “During BIOFACH, we sought out European Union and national regulators, and were able to reassure them of New Zealand’s progress towards standardising its organic certification regime to meet European requirements. We also pressed our case for acceding to the EU’s third country list, which we hope to achieve this year.”

With automatic access assured in the near future, Europe should prove a lucrative market for a broad range of New Zealand organic products, he says. “While there is still significant demand for our mainstay horticultural products, BIOFACH demonstrated the need for more meat, dairy, beverages and processed convenience foods. Seafood that is sustainably harvested is also in demand.”

BIOFACH also offers opportunities for New Zealand companies in non-food sectors. At this year’s fair, exhibitors displayed a vast range of “natural” goods, produced according to “environmentally sustainable” and “fair trade” principles. Such products included furniture, toys, textiles, gifts, cosmetics, and lifestyle products of all kinds.

Concludes Manhire, “BIOFACH 2000 has reinforced O.P.E.G.’s perception that New Zealand has to gear up far more quickly to meet the expanding market for organic products. There is demand for our products but if we continue to fall short of that demand, other suppliers will fill the opportunities.”

Also at BIOFACH was Gavin Young, Trade NZ manager responsible for organics. He confirms there is growing interest among the wider New Zealand food industry in the potential for organics exports. “From preliminary discussions, I am optimistic that we will have a larger and more representative New Zealand presence at BIOFACH in 2001.”


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