Eating organic food is steadily becoming a contemporary mainstream trend with growing numbers of consumers choosing the full flavour of food that is produced in harmony with nature. The use of all chemicals such as synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and growth hormones is strictly prohibited in organic food production. The perception of organic food as a basket of earthy produce has changed significantly, with top restaurants such as Haute Cabriére in Franschoek offering popular organic dishes on their upmarket menus. Meeting consumer demands for a wide variety of organic food products is a major focus of the Woolworths Good Food Journey. Over the past five years, Woolworths has increased its organic offering from just over 10 to over 150 lines. These lines encompass produce, dairy, eggs, meat, juice and wine, as well as a number of grocery lines such as tea, pasta and liquorice. The shift to organic foods is resulting in growth in other areas, providing consumers with more access to organic products. Over the last two years, the number of Woolworths stores stocking the full range of organic products has increased from 16 to 40; while the stores with limited availability of organic lines has increased from 30 to 37 nationwide. This means that almost 60% of Woolworths stores nationwide now stock organic products. The Woolworths supplier base has also increased from 22 to 107 certified organic farmers. As organic farming is based on the principles of building soil fertility, minimising pollution and damage to the environment, working with rather than against natural systems and respecting animal welfare, this is good news for the environment. In South Africa, organic farming has the additional economic benefit of enabling previously-disadvantaged communities to engage in the agricultural sector. More than 50 of Woolworths new organic produce suppliers are black small farmers in KwaZulu-Natal. As part of their support, Woolworths has assisted in organising organic farmers into “centres of excellence”, where planting, technical, ordering and packaging expertise are shared. “More and more consumers are realising the benefits of eating organic foods,” comments, Richard Butt, Woolworths, Director: Product. “Many of Woolworths customers tell us that they prefer to buy organic because they perceive nutritional and taste benefits. They also like the reassurance that this is food that has been produced without any chemicals – no synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics.” ENDS __________________________________________________________ APPENDIX A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 1.What is organic food? Organic food is food that has been farmed in harmony with nature according to an internationally accepted definition. The use of all chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones etc. is strictly prohibited. 2.How does organic farming differ from conventional farming? Organic farming is farming that makes use of crop rotation, natural composting, approved environmentally friendly pest control and homeopathic remedies to produce food that is free of all chemicals and artificial additives. 3.How is organic farming regulated? Organic farming is defined, and regulated by independent third-party organisations, like Ecocert, Afrisco, SGS, BDOCA, Soil Association and BCS, who certify organic farmers based on regular assessments, inspections and audits of the produce and the farming practices. 4.How do I recognise that a product is organic? The product packaging features Woolworths organic branding – a white stylised flower icon presented in a deep, earthy green colour. 5.How do I know that the product I am buying is really organic? A certification number and/or accreditation body logo appears on the label of the product. All genuine organic farmers are certified and accredited by a regulatory body. 6.What does ‘Organic in Conversion’ mean? Organic farms may have to be farmed according to organic principles for a period of up to three years before they can be accredited. These farms are monitored frequently during the conversion period to assess factors such as soil residues. After the first year of this conversion process, produce from these farms will be labelled “organic in conversion”. 7.What does ‘Made with Organic Ingredients’ mean? A product may only be labelled as “organic” if a minimum of 95% of the ingredients from agricultural origin used are certified organic. If the percentage of organic ingredients used is less than 95% but more than 75% then the product may be labelled “Made with Organic Ingredients”. 8.What are the health benefits of organic food? As no chemicals or artificial additives have been involved in the farming process, the produce is free from all unnatural residues. Recent research quoted by the Soil Association (U.K.) states that organic crops can contain higher levels of essential vitamin C, magnesium, iron and other minerals. 9.Is organic farming good for the environment? If so why? Yes, organic farming is good for the environment. It builds soil fertility and significantly minimises pollution and damage to the environment. Organic farming is based on the principle of working with natural systems, not against them. 10.Why are organic products sometimes more expensive? Organic farming is more expensive than conventional farming. Start-up costs and the accreditation process are expensive. Organic farming is also more labour intensive, the yields can be lower and the risks are higher. 11.Why are organic products not always available? Organic farmers work with natural systems and therefore the supply of produce is entirely dependent on nature's cycles. Conventional farming methods extend natural seasonality through artificial processes and those products may then be available out-of-season. As organic farmers may not intervene in natural growing processes they are also more vulnerable to weather and pest infestations which affect their yields and result in supply being more erratic. 12.Can meat & dairy products be organic? Yes. Woolworths provides organic meat and organic eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheeses. Organic animal husbandry means that the animals eat organic plant food, they are treated only with approved homeopathic remedies and they are allowed to roam freely on the farms. 13.What is the difference between organic & free range? All organic animals are free range, however all free range animals are not necessarily organic. All free range animals live natural lives, roaming on the land, interacting with one another and eating only plant-based foods. However, animals classified as free range, not organic, may be treated by conventional veterinary methods when sick. In addition, while free range animals eat only plant-based foods, these are not necessarily organically produced, and may include approved artificial additives in specific quantities. 14.What type of food products could be organic? Woolworths is constantly sourcing organic options. Already their ranges include wine, beef, eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, fruit and vegetables; as well as a variety of grocery items including preserves, pastas, biscuits, cereals, teas, coffee, rice and other grains, spices, condiments, chutneys and relishes. 15.What is Woolworths position on organic products? Woolworths strives to provide the best for their customers and is truly committed to assisting consumers in leading a healthier lifestyle. To this end, Woolworths is dedicated to continually expanding its organic offering and making healthier options available in store. In 1999, Woolworths first stocked various organic fruit and vegetable ranges. Last year they were the first retailer to introduce organic meat i.e. various beef cuts and a range of organic dairy products. By the e