ORGANIC foods are as much as 300 per cent more expensive than other produce and concerns remain that the goods aren’t always “green”. New cost-of-living research from Suncorp Bank shows a basket of organic goods, including bananas, eggs, mince and chicken breasts, would cost a consumer $100, versus $56 for regular items. Organic pasta was 318 per cent more expensive than non-organic; organic bananas were 302 per cent more costly.
Chicken was 73 per cent dearer. Consumer group Choice’s food policy adviser Angela McDougall said organic chicken had to be free range, requiring increased space, organic feed, untreated pastures and no use of antibodies. So not only was yield reduced, the production process was more involved and therefore expensive.
“It’s not too difficult to see how it can end up costing quite a bit more,” Ms McDougall said. But she said that “when it gets up to 300 per cent, you really need to be thinking, `what could be possibly causing that?”‘. Ms McDougall, who is also a member of the Standards Australia organic and biodynamic products committee, said that consumers worried about price should “make sure there are advantages … that make it worth out shelling out the extra money”.
Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby said that while it was expensive to produce organic goods, consumers often had no way of checking whether the goods were legitimately grown by organic farmers.
“A genuine organic farmer would have a lot more costs,” she said. “There are only a certain number of farmers producing it. That’s why we get goods incorrectly marked as organic, or the farmer hasn’t got the certification from one of the organic bodies, they are just calling themselves organic. “I’m always suspicious of these people selling `organic’ foods at farmers markets… but you don’t really know and you have got no way of telling.”
Ms Saxelby said there was no evidence to show that organically grown produce was better for you. Suncorp Bank executive manager Craig Fenwick said organic buyers could spend more than $2300 extra a year.
“It’s important to make sure you are conscious of that and you need to make sure you are prioritising and making the trade-offs to spend on these types of goods,” he said. “There are other things could do with that, a fair chunk could go towards the kids’ school fees or a holiday … that’s your call as a consumer.” Australian Organic Ltd chairman Andrew Monk said some conventional products had become so low priced it was difficult for organic farmers to compete. “A lot of conventional product is becoming so cheap, we are spending less of our overall budget on food,” he said. “One classic example is milk…in Queensland there are at least 50 separate farms going out of business because of the $1 a litre milk pricing.
“That sort of pricing is patently unsustainable long term, and is doing untold damage to the broader community.” He said to look out for the organic bud logo and other certification bodies to ensure the goods did come from organic growers.
Source: News Limited – http://www.news.com.au/