Calls are being made for regulation of the New Zealand organic food market. With a $350 million organic food market growing rapidly, it turns out no one ensures the food really is organic, and New Zealand is lagging behind on this.
“Any importer can import something claiming it’s organic, while it’s not. And there’s no real muscle to enforce that,” says Brendan Hoare of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand.
Companies can go through the process of becoming “certified organic” which means they’re audited every year to make sure what they’re selling is free of additives.
Joyce Lowyim of IE Produce says being “certified organic” means no herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or genetically modified organisms. Certification isn’t compulsory, but there’s a strong argument that it should be.
“There are some people who think ‘I want to have a piece of that’ and they cheat the system,” says Andre Leu of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
Ms Lowyim says it’s really important from the consumers’ point of view to know that what they’re getting is certified organic. The Government is currently meeting with international experts about what needs to be done. “There’s a lot of cowboys on board, labelling products as organic. I hate the cheating that goes on board,” Ms Lowyim says.
But any new regulations are likely to still be years away. So health conscious shoppers are advised to keep hunting for the “certified organic” stickers.