A LARGE Western Australian apple orchard is diversifying into the organic industry.
Newton Brothers Orchards in Manjimup has planted 21 hectares of Pink Lady, Jazz, Granny Smith, Royal Gala and Fuji varieties.
Newton Brothers is just one of the many companies that have diversified and entered the $1.27 billion organic sector over the last two years, according to the Australian Organic Market Report 2012.
The report shows the organic fruit market has doubled in two years to almost $40 million.
The farm gate value of organics in WA is $19.6 million.
The Australian Organic Market Report 2012, launched yesterday, is a benchmark for the organic sector, from meat and vegetables to grain and cosmetics.
The biennial research is funded by the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) and Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL) commissioning researchers from Swinburne University and Mobium Group, and draws on figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Co-author Dr Andrew Monk from BFA said 60 per cent of organic consumers note fruit and vegetables as their most regular purchase - "and this sector still has significant room for growth".
Newton Brothers Orchards’ Nic Giblett said, “We aim to produce organic fruit of quality standards comparable to conventionally grown produce".
“We also want to be able to market our organic fruit at prices comparable to conventional – that is, with a premium of around 10pc – in order to attract more consumers to organic.”
Latest figures show WA has almost 100 hectares of organic pome fruits (apples and pears), 25 hectares of citrus and the most certified organic land in Australia under olives with 328 hectares.
The nation’s organic grain production of wheat, oats and barley has increased by 80pc in the last two years to $17 million; WA is the third-largest state for organic grains.