As you read this, I may be streaming over the largest body of water on the planet. The Pacific will beckon as I careen across the International Date Line, south to my favorite island nation, Aotearoa, literally the land of the long white cloud according to the Maori tongue. It is also known as New Zealand.
I do not come all this way just to visit my beloved organic apple growing friends. Although I certainly will relish in their company. Nor do I cross the planet only to savor corn fritters, crayfish and pavlova- but I will.
I make the long journey at the bequest of Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield, to participate in his Entrepreneurship Institute (HEI) in Auckland November 13th-14th.
It turns out Kiwis want to enter the US organic market, and I’m happy to help.
Visiting New Zealand is like visiting one big farm; its grassy knolls are dotted with sheep and cattle. It’s one of the least-populated nations on Earth with just over 4.8 million people and, of course, 30 million sheep.
New Zealand intends to be a leader in the worldwide organic movement.
The organic sector is growing fast there–15 percent a year, now worth $600 million annually, up 15% from 2015. According to the latest data from Organic Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), a full 60% of organic sales come from exports which are booming.
The organic market isn’t just a fad; it’s a forceful segment of the world market. It’s the fastest growing food sector in the world driven by consumers who want ethical and sustainable food and fiber and products that are good for them and sustainable for the planet.
NZ Organic exports which include organic produce, milk, wool, wine and beauty care products have grown by 42% to $355 million since 2015.
This is a tiny percentage of the surging organic global market which stands at $124 billion in 2017 and is estimated to soar as high as $323.09 billion in 2024.
So, there is plenty of room to grow.
Europe, Australia and North America are the primary areas of export for NZ, representing 69% of all organic exports. Thus, the bulk of presenters at this event will be from the US. We will discuss how to break into the US organic market.
I will share the stage with the likes of Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, Bob Burke, a longtime natural products strategic advisor, Betsy McGinn, founder of McGinn eComm, author Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, Tim Brown, co-founder of Allbirds and, of course, the brainchild himself, Gary Hirshberg.
I am honored to be part of this auspicious group and my years of importing delicious apples and kiwifruit will likely lend me some credence.
I know what it means to do business in the US, and I understand the needs of the consumer, retailer and broker. The organic entrepreneurs in attendance will be seeking advice on everything from marketing to operations and they will come to be part of the global organic solution.
I believe growing the organic market whether here or in New Zealand ultimately helps the planet overcome the direst of challenges that face us today.
Organic is a real solution to climate change as living organic soils sink and sequester the extra carbon we produce so wantonly.
Organic agriculture can help combat many of the health issues that come from exposure to harmful agricultural inputs and residues in our food.
Every organic business contributes to a cleaner, safer environment for workers and consumers alike.
I recently had a reporter ask me if I thought organic tasted better.
Well, of course, that is a subjective question- it’s all in the mouth of the beholder.
But doesn’t it just make sense that healthy soil and less chemical shenanigans will produce a healthier, tastier morsel?
Flavor is just one reason to grow organic, and I must go to New Zealand to do it!
I plan to savor the culinary delights and mingle with organic producers and consumers. I will report back on my time in the land of the long white cloud and tell you how it tastes.
This odyssey calls me, and it’s all part of my work to help heal the planet.
By the way, if you’re reading this in New Zealand or Australia, you too can attend by clicking here.
Kia Ora for now!