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Name: Australian Organic Limited (AOL)
Country: Australia
Active Since: 1987

Member of IFOAM – Organics International since 2023

Surpassing global benchmarks, Australia boasts over 53 million hectares of certified organic farmland, accompanied by a network of 3,000 certified businesses. Despite challenges faced, our member, Australian Organic Limited (AOL) and its allies play a crucial role in steering the nation towards a sustainable future.

According to the 2021 FiBL survey on organic agriculture worldwide, Australia is the country with the most organic agricultural land. The agricultural nation is famous for producing remarkable food and fibre, offering a diverse range of high-quality products to domestic and international markets. Within broader agriculture sector in Australia is a robust organic sector, with more than 3,000 certified businesses that cater to growing customer bases at home and abroad.

AOL is a non-profit and member-owned industry body that strives to create a positive impact for humans, animals and the environment, now and in the future. Led by an experienced team, AOL is committed to progressing the interests of the organic sector and envisioning a world where organics is recognised for its environmental, social and economic benefits.

Since its inception in 1987, under the name ‘Biological Farmers of Australia’, the operation has grown to encompass the entire organic sector and engage in diverse initiatives, including advocacy with government entities and departments on behalf of the broader industry.

The Organic Development Group after being founded in 2023. It is a formation of 11 key organic industry bodies working toward the collective goals of the industry © AOL

A world leader in organic farmland

There is significant scope for growth in Australia’s organic industry, as evidenced by the sheer amount of land under certified organic management across the nation. The 2023 Australian Organic Market Report reveals that Australia boasts 53 million hectares of certified organic farmland, comprising approximately 70% of the entire world total.

Despite this, the direct annual value of the Australian organic sector is approximately $851 million, highlighting scope for the industry’s expansion.

Unfortunately, some regulatory barriers exist that have prevented the industry from achieving its full potential. One of AOL’s important long-term goals is supporting the creation of domestic regulation for organics in Australia. The country lags behind many other more developed nations, lacking a mandatory standard governing the term ‘organic’ on product claims.

The consequences of this are significant. Consumer trust is impacted, as shoppers must search for a certification mark to be sure they are truly buying organic products. For Australian consumers more broadly, a commonly cited barrier to buying organic is the lack of trust in organic claims.

It is vital to strengthen the credibility of organics to encourage more purchase of organic products © Petervw

Export concerns

Australia has a voluntary certification system where operators selling in Australia may choose to become certified by one of five government approved certification bodies, in an effort to build trust in the industry. However, any businesses looking to export Australian organic products must be certified, given the strict requirements of importing countries.

This is a limiting factor as operators may need to secure multiple certifications to enter more than one market, which can be cost-prohibitive for businesses. Another of AOL’s goals is to support the introduction of equivalency or conformity agreements that unlock market access opportunities for Australian organic operators.

Why choose organic?

Australia has a dedicated community of organic shoppers who believe in the manifold health and environmental benefits of organic production. AOL works to promote these advantages through initiatives such as our annual Organic Awareness Month,[1] held in September, which encourages the organic community to come together and share knowledge around the organic value proposition and the importance of certification.

Awareness Month is centered around community engagement, with 2023 seeing a host of wonderful initiatives from organic businesses, including networking events, radio interviews, in-store activations and much more.

On-farm educational sessions are vital to knowledge sharing around organic production © AOL

Supporting the organic industry, in Australia and abroad

Organisations such as IFOAM – Organics International are vital to showcasing the breadth of organics on the world stage, particularly as the need for sustainable production continues to grow. Farmers need our continued support, especially in a country like Australia that is susceptible to periods of intense drought and flooding. It’s no secret that organic production can be more challenging than conventional in many circumstances due to reduced input options, so shopping organic wherever you can is a vote of support for forward-thinking, sustainable production.

[1]  This is Australia’s largest campaign promoting all organically certified products in the sector e.g., food, cosmetics, textiles, among others.

Learn more about the AOL here

We would like to thank Niki Ford, Chief Executive Officer for AOL, for authoring this article. Inspired by her family, Niki has a strong connection to the land, sustainable food, and nutrition. In her work, she has navigated a de-merge, restructured the organisation into the highly regarded industry peak body of today, and established strong, respected relationships with government and industry, championing the organic industry in all aspects.