Professor Jonathan Wong (second from left), Director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre (HKORC) of HKBU, yesterday (6 March) released findings of research that showed that the local organic produce market was enjoying good progress which matched the global trend but that many people still relied on uncertified claims that food was organically grown.
Of the 616 persons surveyed, 60 per cent had purchased organic products and 30 per cent bought organic food at least once a week. Among them, three per cent bought organic products on a daily basis. The number of consumers who spent an average of more than HK$500 a month on organic food had increased rapidly from 9 per cent in 2008 to 16.2 per cent today. Those who said they would spend an average of more than HK$500 a month on organic food in the coming year had reached 20.8 per cent.
The survey also reflected Hong Kong people's lack of a thorough understanding of organic products. Forty per cent of those surveyed relied only on a claim that products were organically grown. Moreover, 40 per cent of consumers indicated they had never bought organic food. Of these, 90 per cent cited the high cost of the produce and 60 per cent said the lack of certification labels lowered their confidence in produce claimed to be organic.
As the research demonstrated, Hong Kong has no regulations covering organically grown food. Therefore HKORC sees an urgent need for consumer education so as to strengthen Hong Kong people's knowledge of and confidence in organic products. Professor Wong urged the Hong Kong Government to promote public education about an organic lifestyle and introduce control measures on organic food to protect consumers' rights. He pointed out that HKORC's organic seal was currently the most recognised label in Hong Kong. According to the survey, more than 60 per cent of Hong Kong people had seen the HKORC seal.
Professor Wong also said that HKORC would provide a Product Acceptance service for imported processed organic products that are certified by other accredited certification bodies. By seeing the HKORC label, Hong Kong citizens can more easily identify imports that are reliable. This new service will boost the popularity and penetration of organic dieting in Hong Kong.
In order to provide a better understanding of organic food and certification, the Centre will hold a "3.25 Organic Day" with the theme "Organic Sharing". This event will highlight the achievements of the local organic market, and encourage citizens to support the local agricultural and aqua-cultural industry.