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International trends in organics

The worldwide organic food market has been growing at a rate of twenty percent per year, since 1990, and accounts for one to two percent of total food sales.  In a ten year period in the UK, organic food sales increased from 100 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds.  Similar growth has occured in the US,  which combined with the EU accounts for 95% of all retail sales of organic food products.  One study undertaken by the Organic Trade Association, indicted that sales of all organic products rose from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.6 billion in 2008, with a reported increase of 17% in that year alone, despite other industries being severely impacted by the recession.  A 2009 Organic Industry Survey in the US stated that  the biggest industry segments were: fruit and vegetables 37%, dairy 16 percent, non dairy beverages 13 percent and organic meat 3%.  Industry sectors that were previously small have experienced some rapid growth too, sales of organic meat for example increasing in the US by 12% last year alone. Seafood, pet products, beer, wine and nutritional bars have also risen in recent years.

Another trend that seems to now have settled in is the marketing of organic food to  younger people.  In 2008 Datamonitors Productscan Database predicted this to be a top trend for the US in 2008.  Spurred on  by increasing controversy of unethical marketing of food products to children, many food giants have opted to go organic.  In New Zealand Heinz Wattie was one of the first to do so.  More recently McDonalds in the UK has deemed all its milk products to be organic.   The US however is slower than most. In Italy the government legislated that all food used in school lunch programmes be organic in 2005 and all baby food in Germany now 'must be' organic.

Although the customer has had a huge impact on the growth of the organic industry by voting with their wallets, legislation has, and always will have, the greatest impact on determining what food is available to buy and therefore what we eat.  In 1990 one of the most of the courageous stands in the organic movement, by a government, was made by Cuba. The government of the time converted all farmland in the country to organic farm land and banned most chemicals used in conventional farming.

That really is a testament to change.  Happy gardening!


Market-Led Growth vs. Government-Facilitated Growth: Development of the U.S. and EU Organic Agricultural Sectors, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2005. National Organic Program, Ag Marketing Service, USDA. Organic, Natural Foods Merchandiser. Organic Agriculture: 2007 (United States), 2007 Census of Agriculture, NASS, USDA, 2009. Organic Production, ERS, USDA. Organic Trade Association. The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2009, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Foundation Ecology & Agriculture (SÖL) and Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)

Winter planting

Sow seeds in trays or seedlings into the garden of: cabbage, cauliflower, celery, spring onion, onions, silverbeet, spinach and lettuce. Sow into the soil in warmer districts: carrots, parsnips, beetroot, peas and radish and in cool climates sow: broad beans, parsnips, turnips, Swedes and peas.  Plant seed potatoes, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries.  Plant new citrus and deciduous fruit trees.
Winter Harvesting  In plentiful supply now in the garden are brussels sprouts, silver beet, cauliflowers, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, radish, spinach, leeks, kiwifruit, avocado, cherimoya, passionfruit, tamarillo and guava. Happy gardening!