IN spite of its status as a bulk commodity, grain is commanding a healthy premium as an organic product, according to leaders within the organic sector.
Australian Certified Organic (ACO) says domestic organic millers are paying up to 40 per cent premiums for certified organic grain, and Scott Kinnear of the Safe Food Foundation says premiums of up to 100pc are attainable for organic producers.
Organic grain production has fallen in Australia in recent years, according to Australian Certified Organic, with seasonal difficulties and a smaller production base meaning Australian organic grain supplies are at a record low.
With uses for organic grain varying from the burgeoning artisan bakery movement, to organic livestock producers who are required to feed certified organic grain, there is pressure on to find supply.
Andrew Monk, chair of Australian Organic, which has ACO as an offshoot, says the shortfall is worrying but added it presented opportunities for organic farmers of other products, or conventional grain producers looking to diversify.
“Export demand is also high. The settings are perfect for existing operators to expand and new entrants to innovate and diversify their current cropping and marketing practices.”
Mr Kinnear said the Asian market was becoming increasingly selective and quality conscious.
“Growth there in organics is virtually exponential.”
ACO said a large miller in Queensland is offering 40pc higher premiums for growers switching to growing certified organic grain.
Dr Monk said farmers who are already using organic farming practices can achieve organic certification quicker under recent changes to the national organic standard, while conventional farmers will take longer.
Producers could be fully certified after just one year of inspections, if they can verify that the property has been under organic management for the previous three years.