Asia’s organic industry catching up
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Some Asian countries have seen an annual growth in demand of 30 to 40 per cent in the last two or three years. Investments from food companies and leading retailers in organic food ranges have helped to stimulate the demand. There was also a large increase in production, stated Mr. Sahota, director of Organic Monitor. The research company’s first report on Asia estimates the region to have more than 4 million hectares of certified organic farmland (representing 13 per cent of the global total), compared with 500,000 hectares only five years ago. The country with the largest increase is China. Other countries with large agricultural sectors like Thailand and India are converting to organic production as well. http://www.organicmonitor.com/500140.htm
There is a clear segregation between producer markets and markets with growing demand. Producing countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, export more than 90 per cent of their produce, mainly to Europe and North America. About 40 per cent of organic soy used in Europe last year, for example, came from China. An estimated US $ 200 million of organic food was exported from China in the past year. The domestic market only consumes about 10 per cent of the country’s production, due to the prices which are four to five times the price of conventional products. But ironically, the country has to import a large share of its products since processing is not well-developed yet.
Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan have a higher education level and available funds, but a smaller or no agricultural sector. Therefore, they depend on import. The Japanese market is still the most important consumer with 60 per cent of the demand.
Total sales from the region are expected to reach around US $ 800 million in 2006, which is double the value of 2001. In Asia, health is the most important factor for a purchase decisions. Buddhist countries also favour organic products because of their harmony with nature.