Going organic – an acquired taste

WOMEN are warming to organic food but men are less convinced, a new report says.

Organic food sales - especially fruit and vegetables - now top $600 million a year, according to the Australian Organic Market Report 2008.

The report found shoppers are tempted to buy organic food for health and environmental reasons, and because they think it tastes better.

Organic food looks better than it used to, boosting sales.

“Women are the primary purchasers,” said the report, written by researchers at the University of New England in Armidale.

Forty per cent of consumers now buy organic food on occasions, and organic food has become more mainstream. Australia's organic industry was growing strongly, but some products were struggling, and the drought posed a major problem to production, the report said.

Farm gate value has risen 80 per cent during the past four years and Australia has more land - almost 12 million hectares - set aside for organic farming than any other country in the world. Most of the land is rangeland for beef production.

The drought has cut production of organic grains while rising feed costs is constraining organic poultry and egg farmers. There are still supply chain problems, which sees some organic beef sold as non-organic beef, and organic pork farmers struggling to find suitable abattoirs.

Imported organic foods are increasingly meeting surging demand in Australia.

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