Industry concerns

The messages we consistently hear from our industry about the domestic market include the following.

Domestic regulation

  • industry regulatory arrangements are complicated and not well understood
  • overwhelmingly, most producers are concerned that domestic regulation is insufficient
    • overseas, many key markets protect “organic” under consumer laws
    • Australian consumer law treats “organic” as a generic term
    • more could be even be done by Govt/Industry to protect “certified organic”
  • there are generally low levels of satisfaction with certification processes
    • this extends beyond normal mismatches of expectations of services and fees paid
    • audits are viewed as an overly bureaucratic form ticking exercise — producers overwhelming care that the audit process promotes integrity in organic products
    • some auditors are viewed as inexperienced and unqualified to conduct audits
    • there is concern about fraudulent operators who flaunt obligations to comply with standards
    • there is a need for a charter or service standard

Research & development levies

  • there is clear recognition that the Government collects levies on a commodity basis which then is provided to commodity-focussed industry development organisations, and that the producer levies are then supplemented with matching Government contributions
  • most producers think that they do not receive value for money from these industry development organisations (but there are some exceptions)
  • there is generally a strong desire for organics to have its own industry development organisation

Industry governance

  • organics is haunted by historic disagreements, divergent mindsets and conflicting agendas
    • there is a need for a clean break with this past
  • there is frustration about the value received for levies currently paid
    • there is no desire for additional fees to fund better industry governance
    • identifying viable ways to fund the necessary governance activities and services is critical


  • the transition costs to organic production are significant, and there is no premium in the price received during the long period of conversion
  • the premium received for organic products after conversion is often not sufficient to compensate for the higher production costs and the conversion period
  • consequently, organic production is often adopted for philosophical or lifestyle reasons, rather than for commercial reasons
  • there is a role for Governments in addressing this significant barrier to entry