New Zealand's sales of organic food maybe at an all-time high, but the sector remains burdened by a lack of supply, a lack of investment and a reputation for being bourgeois. While sales of organics are growing twice as fast as conventional food, it still represents just 2.2% of total supermarket sales.
Statistics from AgFunder, which tracks investments in agriculture and food tech start-ups, show that US$10 billion was invested globally into the agri-tech sector last year up, nearly 30% from 2016.
Think of brands like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, which just tripled in value after it was listed on a stock exchange. Billionaire investors like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are all investing in the sector, including investments in biotech start-up Motif.
Investments in organic foods are growing off the back of agri-tech's popularity, but it's difficult to imagine they could be anything near the levels agri-tech is seeing. Although, an exact figure could not be found.
Research from Organics Aotearoa New Zealand found 80% of New Zealanders purchase organic items at least every fortnight. The sector, which has seen 30% growth since 2015, says it's booming. The same growth can be observed all over the world, with a global market worth US$97b (NZ$146b), according to an international report from the organics industry.
But that's not all good news, necessarily. Ben Bostock, co-founder of organic chicken label Bostock Brother's, said with the sector's growth created openings for fraud: "It is critical the reputation of organics is not damaged. Sound regulation is important so consumers can trust the product is actually organic."
According to stuff.co.nz ¸ national standards for organic produce are now on the horizon, and the hope is that it will encourage the investment that has so far been lacking.