Australia’s best organic businesses have been recognised by the industry’s most prestigious awards – the highly coveted 2014 Organic Consumer Choice Awards (OCCAs) – announced last Friday.
Conducted by the Centre for Organic Research and Education (CORE), the annual industry awards program is one of a national lineup of organic events and celebrations.
The Awards were launched as part of National Organic Week (October 3–12). Consumers had one month to cast their votes for their favourite organic stores, brands, products, websites…
Queensland organic businesses dominated the awards again this year by winning six of the nine categories and Western Australia one. New South Wales received two major awards, both of which were awarded to local northern rivers people – Sustainable Farmer of the Year: Alasdair Smithson (NSW) our very own ‘Organic Roundup’ editorial contributor; the other winner was sugar-free ‘Living Elixir’ turmeric ginger beer from Red Dragon Organics (NSW).
The awards ceremony itself was held at our very own Harvest Café in Newrybar. It was attended by prominent celebrities including Annie Brownjohn, Telstra’s Businesswoman of the Year 2013 award winner and founder of leading organic food manufacturing company The Right Food Group, and National Organic Week ambassador Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia).
‘Recognising the link between healthy food and our wellbeing is highlighted by these awards,’ said Costa.
‘Every business that enters these awards wins whether they receive an award or not,’ says Eric Love, chairman of CORE. ‘Winning involves reaching out to all their customers and encouraging them to vote for them.
‘This enhances customer loyalty and results in a significant increase in purchases of organic products for all participants,’ adds Love.
Thousands of consumers around Australia voted for their favourite nominated organic businesses and products through the National Organic Week website. The 40 nominees attracted nearly 6,000 votes.
‘I like the OCCA’s public voting system. It is not biased, it is real. Everyone has a vote. A small independent producer such as Red Dragon Organics can win.
‘I feel real pride that discerning members of the public, rather than judges, voted our sugar-free Living Elixir as the best organic product of 2014,’ comments Richard Patton, general manager of Red Dragon Organics.
The Australian Organic Industry is growing 15 per cent per year and is now worth $1.72 billion. This indicates the general community’s interest in eating healthful food and protecting our valuable farming resources.
In 2015, the voting for the NOW Organic Consumer Choice Awards will continue to target organic consumers through the internet and social media. National Organic Week 2015 will be held over 2–11 October.