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Organic Businesses Call on the Government to Regulate

Media Release
12th June

NZ’s Organic Businesses Call on the Government to Regulate their Industry

Some of the country’s largest organic businesses have just hosted MP’s in Hawke’s Bay, calling on the Government to regulate the organic sector and provide a national standard to protect the word “organic”.

The organisation that represents the New Zealand organic sector, Organics Aotearoa NZ (OANZ) hosted a field trip for the Primary Production Select Committee.

OANZ CEO Brendan Hoare says the organic sector is growing 11% each year and is now worth more than $0.5 billion dollars to the economy.

“We are all serious operators and we want the Government to see that we are all about adding value. We need them to get behind our sector and provide the necessary protection experienced in other markets.”

There are currently no Government regulations for the use of the word “organic” and OANZ would like a single national standard to protect growing organic businesses. This request has the backing from all national certification agencies –each with their own standard.

‘A single national standard would deliver greater efficiency and clarity for the consumer. The organic sector covers all market segments, but at the moment anyone can set up an organic business and they do not need to be certified. It is simply unfair and undermining our potential to grow in both the domestic and international markets. The economic opportunity is significant and we want to protect that,” said Mr Hoare.

New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have a regulation protecting the use of the term organic and a supporting national organic standard.

The MP’s were taken to Te Awa Winery where Villa Maria’s Organic wines were showcased. They were then shown around Lawson’s Organic Farms which grows True Earth blueberries and vegetables.

True Earth Owner Scott Lawson says a national standard is a no brainer.

“A national standard is needed because the consumer has the right to know. When we are exporting the first question we get asked is, ‘What is your national standard?”

While touring the Bostock’s Organic Free Range Chicken Farm, owners Ben and George Bostock told MP’s that regulation is important and would give more credibility and trust.

“We spend a lot more money than conventional farmers to ensure we are farming sustainably and providing consumers with a truly organic product. It is important that consumers trust the word “organic”.”

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower and pioneer of commercial organic apple growing in New Zealand, John Bostock was quick to tell the Primary Produce Select Committee how important it was to regulate the term “organic”.

“It is unbelievable that a clean, green country like New Zealand doesn’t provide some form of protection for organic businesses. There has been so much false advertising in the past and we still have not tidied up our act. We need to shake up the Government to see sense.”

Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee and Rangitikei National MP Ian McKelvie says he was impressed by what he saw in Hawke’s Bay and is supportive of OANZ calls for regulation.

“The Ministry of Primary Industries is certainly looking at this issue. The organic sector is big business now and very organised and the Government is listening to these concerns.”

Green Party MP, Eugenie Sage says a national standard could be achieved very quickly and isn’t a complicated process.

OANZ has presented its case to MPI and it is now under full consideration.

Ends

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