Hawke's Bay was chosen to showcase the need for a regulated national standard for organic produce on Friday. Organic Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) hosted a field day for Parliament's primary production select committee.

The group toured and spoke with the operators of Villa Maria's Te Awa vineyards, Lawson's Organic Farms, Bostock's Organic Free Range Chicken and Bostock New Zealand.

OANZ figures show organic produce to be a $500 million industry and growing 11 per cent annually.

Chairman Doug Voss said New Zealand already had four organic standards and certifiers and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) already certified exported produce.


"The core issue is that we don't have a regulation in New Zealand nor do we have a single national standards," he said.

"They are core components for us to have free and easy market access internationally.

"We have the knowledge and experience within the sector, with the current certifiers and technical people within MPI, but more difficult is the regulation to move all that together."

He said the norm was for two countries to "harmonise" their standards to allow two-way trade but because New Zealand had no national standard it was reliant on goodwill.

"It's not that we have been shut out of the US market but we have no long-term legally binding basis to be there."

One regulation for both domestic and exported produce would allow "a good strong pathway" to overseas markets, stimulate the growth of organic production in New Zealand "which will be to the benefit of growers and produces and our country".

"All those things are good and the longer we leave it the difficulties that are emerging in the market are only going to get bigger. It is becoming more critical with Brexit and there are already roadblocks in Asia because we have no national structure in place."

He was optimistic it would happen, with Food Safety Minister David Bennett's officials looking at options for the standard and the pan-party select committee supportive.

"It is a very well-established mechanism but the issue in New Zealand has so far fallen between the gaps. Australia and India do not have national standards but both are further down the road to achieving it.

"I think everyone agrees it has to happen for New Zealand."