The organic food industry has defied gloomy retail conditions to almost double sales nationally over the past four years as consumers become increasingly health conscious.
The Australian Organic Market Report 2012 released yesterday shows the retail value of the national industry was $1.15 billion this year, compared with $947 million in 2010 and $623 million in 2008.
The report claims these stunning gains put organics in the top five growth industries in Australia this year, well ahead of the sales growth in conventional food.
While the easy gains are most likely over, the report forecasts future growth of 10 to 15 per cent a year in the next few years.
The director of Biological Farmers of Australia, Andrew Monk, said the products had become mainstream, with more than 65 per cent of Australian shoppers surveyed saying they bought an organic product in the previous 12 months. Organic beef and wine topped the shopping list, with both subsectors doubling in size in the past two years.
Dr Monk said consumers were not deterred by prices, with organics selling for up to 300 per cent more than conventional foods.
"What we've experienced over recent years is the mainstreaming of organics," Dr Monk said.
"It will always be a niche product, but there are now more mainstream options with the products being sold in major supermarkets."
Co-manager of Perth City Farm, Julie Broad, said customers were attracted to the outlet's range of products for their superior flavour, compared to conventional foods.
Consumers also bought organic products because of concern about pesticides, hormones and additives in conventional foods.There were 224 certified organic farms in WA last year. WA has only 4.5 per cent of the national organic farming sector.