Organic food is often expensive because production is more labour-intensive and, without herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals the yield (for crops, specifically) is generally lower than for conventional foods.
We found prices for the same cut of meat can vary widely from butcher to butcher, so it’s worth shopping around. Beware of very cheap organic meat, however, as there’s a good chance it’s not certified or organic. We suspect this was the case with some of the rump steak we bought at bargain basement prices.
What does it cost?
Here's a summary of the prices we saw:
- The average price for organic rump was about $35 per kilo and ranged up to $69 per kilo, but a few butchers sold it to us for about $23 per kilo. Despite assuring us the beef was certified, these butchers couldn’t tell us who certified their meat and didn’t have any brochures or posters displaying certification information.
- The most expensive organic meat we saw was for New York steak at $89 per kilo, although about $42 per kilo for this cut was more common.
- Organic chicken breast fillets cost between $24.90 and $42.90 per kilo.
Supermarket organic meat
One thing’s certain: organic meat does cost more than conventionally produced meat. When CHOICE last looked at organic food we found you could pay half as much again for organic beef in supermarkets as you would for conventional beef ($30.50-$35 per kilo for organic scotch fillet compared with $20-$27 per kilo for conventional; $14-$15 per kilo for organic mince compared with $10-$12 per kilo for conventional). A recent price comparison of organic and conventional beef at Coles and Woolworths online shopping sites showed a similar price difference.
Woolworths’ own brand of organic meat is certified by the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) scheme. The main suppliers of organic meat to Woolworths are Cleavers The Organic Meat Company and Brismeat (a Woolworths subsidiary). A Woolworths’ spokesperson told us “both suppliers are required to maintain standards specified by the ACO as well as Woolworths’ internal quality control policy”.
Coles is a certified retailer under the ACO scheme, which means the chain of custody for its organic products goes all the way from the farm to its shelves, but information about its organic suppliers is commercially confidential. “We are very serious about our organic meats and take all appropriate steps to ensure our organic meat is authentic, certified and traceable for our customers,” says a Coles spokesperson. “We have ACO check these certifications and our customers can trust the certification logo and retailer number.”
ACO certification labels display a code number specific to the food product’s processor (such as Cleavers) or retailer (Coles). If you have any queries relating to a particular batch of meat, you can find the name and contact details for that processor or retailer by doing a product search on the ACO website.