New regulations give 'credibility' to organic food growers

The country's appetite for organic produce has never been higher and now new regulations are set to crack down on what has been a somewhat murky industry.

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New regulations are set to crack down on what’s been a sometimes murky industry. Source: 1 NEWS

These regulations will mean when produce like kiwifruit hit shelves across the country, the hard work for organic growers will have paid off. 

"I think the most exciting thing with that is it's going to give the consumers that garanteed assurance when they see the word organic that it's actually certified organic. For us growers it gives us authenticity in that credibility of our product," says Kiwifruit growers Mark and Caitriona White. 

The bill will standardise the definition of organic so growers making the claim will have to prove it and for those putting in the hard yard, it can't come soon enough. 

"Well I think New Zealand has been the only one of one or two countries in the OECD that hasn't got this organic regulation. So it's really us catching up with those countries which is great." 

New Zealand's organic sector is now worth over $600 million but not all growers are meeting the standard. 

"Consumers are demanding more organic produce we have seen some cowboy operators who haven't been operating to the best standard, and that reduces people's trust in what they're buying and so I think that this is good for consumers, good for growers, good for exporters," says Green Party co-leader James Shaw. 

Minister for Food Safety Damien O'Connor says the previous standards, while good, have been inconsistent for growers. 

"Ultimately many of our exporting partners, many consumers in our own country want Government sign off, want assurance that in fact the products have met certain standards and this will be consistent across NZ."

The Government says consumers have voiced their concerns about questionable and confusing organic product claims. 

They say the bill will align New Zealand with how major trading partners regulate organics to help grow the market here. 

It will also most likely make New Zealand produce more easily identifiable overseas. 

"For the consumer it gets, when you buy something that is organic, you know that it has been grown organically and produced organically and that is really important for consumers because at the moment you can put the name organic on anything and there is no protection for the consumer so it's a great thing for consumers and a great thing for growers," says OANZ chair Chris Morrison.