Recently, Head of New Zealand's largest organic certifier, Donald Nordeng, said that in the United States the sale of organic fruit and vegetables had grown from 2% to 20% since the 1990s: "That's really something completely different than you get here in New Zealand where it's still mostly for export and a lot of the consumer interest is driven by what's available. The price difference is quite a bit different than it is in other places.”
In the more mature European and British market, supermarkets tend to have 'own brands' of competitively priced organics, like Sainsbury's organic brand SO, which was the first supermarket to launch an organic own brand in Britain. The range offers over 250 organic items.
The same trend towards private labels is happening in the United States, while in New Zealand Countdown has developed its own organics brand, Macro, and Foodstuff's Pams label has a growing organic range. Countdown is making moves to bring the price of organic produce down, such as the recent deal it made with Bostock to provide its customers with 100% organic Braeburn apples.
"We've been working closely with our organic growers for several years now and these relationships help us remove some of the additional costs of growing organic and pass these savings onto our customers through lower prices," Countdown's head of produce, Steve Sexton said.
Countdown says its decision to move to certified organic Braeburn apples is a major play to help make organic produce more affordable and accessible for Kiwis. The supermarket is also working with AsureQuality to gain organic certification across the majority of its stores. But that isn't the norm.
Foodstuffs, which own Pak n' Save, New World and Four Square sells a range of organic food, but spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said organic eggs represented less than 2% of all eggs sold, while standard eggs represented nearly 60%.
Laird said that Foodstuffs was seeing steady growth in organics and wanted to get out in front of consumer demand, but organic producers and manufacturers faced a significant investment. "It's a whole new way of farming for some. The stringent certification requirements to claim organic on a product are cost heavy for producers.”
Pams organic range of fruit and vegetables had grown over the years to include potatoes, carrots, apples, kiwifruit, onions, tomatoes, plums and blueberries.