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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why is organic food more expensive?

    I try to buy organic food and milk when I go grocery shopping but it is so much more expensive than other normal products! Why is this?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    Larina Robinson

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Wholefoods specialist with a focus on results driven weight loss and maintenance. My aim is to make being healthy convienent. Mobile/Online service, phone support, packages … View Profile

    Hi there,

    From my understanding, there a few reasons why eating organic can be more expensive. 
    1. The rigorous certification farmers and companies must go through is quite extensive and expensive 
    2. Eating organic is typically still seen as ‘trendy’ so the food industry ups the price to make the most financial gain from this ‘trend’
    3. Farming methods including organic pest control is more difficult to manage and more costly than regular non-organic pest control methods
    4. In order for organic, local, smaller growers and farmers to continue producing the food and compete against the larger, mass produced food growers, who can sell and buy goods in bulk, they must charge a higher price

    Whilst it can be expensive, I still recommend shopping organic whenever you can, as its often a higher quality product and reduces the amount of pesticides and chemicals you consume. It also supports local farmers and the environment, contributing to improved sustainability of the food supply.

    Tip: When deciding which foods you should buy organic, go for the thin-skinned items or foods without a skin e.g. berries, apples, leafy greens, celery, cucumbers, grapes, stone fruit. The thicker the skin, the less chemicals are thought to penetrate into the edible part e.g. watermelon, grapefruit. 

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Many people feel organic food is not worth the cost. There are also some significant between conventional food and organic food, and very real reasons why organics often cost more. Basically time is money and much of organic pricing can be attributed to time issues. Organic growers spend a lot more time on their crops than conventional growers.  The organic foundations say that the organic price tag reflects the true cost of growing the food substituting labour and intensive management for chemicals, growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. In addition, because organic growers do not use harmful pesticides they have to look for other, often manual methods of controlling pests and diseases.
    Organic foods derived from animals cost more than their conventional counterparts as there is more hands on care required for organic livestock and they must also provide extra space and special feed.
    Organic certification is time consuming and expensive.
    From growers to processors, most organic certified operations need special land and/or facilities before they can produce food. Organic land costs much more than conventional farmland because there's a long list of qualities organic vs. conventional land must possess. This applies to organic land used for crops or livestock.
    On top of land issues, many organic operations are so small that they don't warrant a full-scope manufacturing facility of their own which means either locating an organic operation to share a space with or purchasing special equipment for a conventional facility. If an organic company shares space with a conventional company, more time must be spent making sure that products aren’t mixed and/or that processing machines are properly cleaned before they're used for organics.
    When it comes to organic skills, most business owners spend a significant amount of time and money on ongoing education costs. Beyond self-education, organic business owners or companies must take the time to ensure that their employees also follow proper organic protocol. There's a lot of different skill-sets involved with organic production and handling practices and employees must use organic practices in order for an operation to stay certified.
    A majority of organic farms are smaller  than their conventional peers. Small farms don't receive the same benefits from the economies of scale that large operations do.
    With few exceptions, marketing business correctly takes a significant amount of money and time. However, while large companies often have set marketing budgets and people who do the marketing work for them, smaller operations often do marketing on their own. Small companies, with or without budgets still have to pay for consumer education, print ads, business websites and more.
    There's a long list of known harmful ingredients not allowed in organic food. This means organic producers must find other, less harmful, but often less available and more expensive ingredients instead. Of course it costs less to use synthetic food items, so conventional food companies get a real financial break that organic companies don't.
    Supply and demand is a huge issue. Though organics are gaining popularity each year, organic food sales are nowhere near conventional food sales.

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