Regional Queensland is working out how to boost its organic grain market as the demand for organic grain just keeps growing.
The organic industry itself was estimated to be worth about 1.72 billion in 2014, and the global trend of worldwide markets suggest that the market and demand here at home will only grow.
Still, grains like sesame, millet, quinoa and chia, which are more popular than ever among consumers, are having to be imported to meet demand.
Prices of organic grain in Australia are almost three times the price of conventional grain, making it difficult for grain buyers to run their businesses, and in turn, keep the grain producers growing.
Regional areas want to capitalise on this underserviced market by working with buyers and producers to come up with a sustainable and successful plan.
“We are looking at how we can bring more grain into the market and develop a more sustainable price per ton for the guys buying it, and actually a more reliable long term price for guys growing it,” says Annabelle Bushelle from Australian Certified Organics.
Even with the promise of profit, many farmers are sceptical to go organic because of the limitations that come with the organic grain business. For one, organic grain eliminates all use of synthetic inputs that farmers may be accustomed to, and requires a significant change in management and the appropriate facilities.
“It’s almost like a case by case, you know, this property and that soil type with that climate. It’s really the system that dictates what you’re going to manage in the end, and it’s about building that resilience back up in your soil,” says Ms. Bushelle.
While it would force some farmers to change their traditional approach to grain production, there is a large profit to be reaped. Research shows that packaged organic food in Australia is expected to grow by 5% in constant retail value over the next five years.
If farmers can produce, there will be plenty of interested buyers within the regional Queensland area, and maybe one day, worldwide.