The demand for organic products in Malaysia is increasing. A survey done by Rakuten Insight showed that about 82% of Malaysians want organic fruit and vegetables, out of all major food categories.Even the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry has acknowledged the need for more support for organic farming initiatives in Malaysia.
However, the overall demand is still relatively low for Malaysia, as there are other limitations in place towards living an organic lifestyle.
In fact, a report on organic food demand for young adults aged 20-25 years old shows that there should be more focus on education, familiarity, price consciousness factors before Malaysians readily adopt an organic product lifestyle.
All the more that companies and farmers should encourage more education and discussion about organic food and products.
What are Organic Products?
Organic food products are food products that are grown without using any pesticides or chemicals that are harmful to our health.
As the regulations for food labelling varies from country to country, some suppliers have claimed that their food products are ‘organic’ without any verification. The only way to know if the products you are consuming are organic is through an organic certification with an independent organic association.
Depending on the country and organic associations, standards for organic certification may also vary. However, there are some basic guidelines that most associations follow:
- avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (eg. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives), irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge
- avoidance of genetically modified seed
- use of farmland that has been free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years
- for livestock, adhering to specific requirements for feed, housing, and breeding
- keeping detailed written production and sales records
- maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products
- undergoing periodic on-site inspections
Why are Organic Products Beneficial?
The main reason for going organic is for food safety. Knowing that the amount of fresh produce that you consume on a daily basis is not contaminated by nasty chemicals and synthetic pesticides is great for your health.
Although we cannot see them, pesticide residue may remain on our produce and are often linked to illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, asthma, depression, anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and cancers.
Another main reason for consuming organic products is that they have more nutritional value. For example, organic foods may contain more amounts of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same food.
Not only that, but due to the lack of synthetic pesticides that are applied, plants naturally produce compounds called phytochemicals as a defense system against pathogens and predators. Thus, plants that are grown without synthetic pesticides display more antioxidant and antimutagenic activity. Based on antioxidant phytonutrient levels, organic produce may be considered 20 to 40% healthier than non-organic produce.
Therefore, it makes sense to consume more organic products for better nutrition and antioxidant levels.
Why are Organic Products So Expensive?
Organic food tends to be more labour intensive as farmers do not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or antibiotics. Furthermore, adhering to organic certification standards is more expensive as there are more checks and balances to be put in place during the farming, processing and packaging stages.
Even so, organic farms also tend to be smaller than conventional farms, leading to smaller economies of scales and larger fixed costs. Overall, this causes your organic products to be more expensive than non-organic ones.
How You Can Start Going Organic?
Now that you’ve decided to start on the organic lifestyle, what is the next step as a consumer?
Reading more and understanding your organic products
Educate yourself to learn more about organic food and products by reading more blogs and studies about organic food.
Look at the labels on your food products
Another great way for self-education is by going through all the labels on your organic food products - taking the time to understand what ingredients are in your food and where they come from.
Understand and get to know the organic farmers and suppliers
You can also find out more about the organic farmers and suppliers of your favourite organic products. How do they farm their products and rear their livestock? Have they been operating for a long time? What sort of organic standards have they put in place? Are they sustainable farmers? These are just some of the questions that you can start thinking about when it comes to the supply side.
Develop a relationship with your local organic grocer
It’s likely that your connection between the suppliers and you is through your local organic grocer. Get to know them - they likely have a very vested interest in their suppliers and can tell you more about them and their products. Moreover, they can probably help you with any questions you have about an organic lifestyle.
Talk to others who have embraced the organic lifestyle
Join your local community and meet other like-minded individuals who have embraced the organic lifestyle. They could also be a good source of helpful tips and advice for those who have just started going organic.
Shop at farmers’ markets
Another way to go organic is by shopping at local farmer’s markets, where local farmers sell their produce at a weekly market, sometimes with cheaper prices than at grocery stores.
Buying Tips for Organic Products
Buy in season – Find out what produce is being delivered and when, so that you buy the freshest and cheapest fruits and vegetables when they are in season.
Shop around – Do a price comparison of organic products at the grocery store, farmer’s markets, online stores and other venues to select the best products for their price and quality.
Remember that organic doesn’t always equal healthy – Some organic products like baked goods and snacks are usually still very high in sugar, salt and fat, so do read your food labels carefully. Not all organic products are always healthy.
For Organic Products, there’s Nature’s Glory Malaysia
A pioneer in the organic movement in Singapore, Nature’s Glory is now available in Malaysia through its online organic store. Featuring organic fresh produce, dried grocery products, water filtration systems, health supplements and kitchen tools, Nature’s Glory has everything you need in terms of organic products.
We take our stance on the organic products very seriously -- we are certified organic by NASAA, one of Australia’s top organic associations. This means our organic products are made without any chemicals or synthetic pesticides. Furthermore, we carry out our own in-house testing to ensure that our products are not made from GMOs, are radiation free, microwave free and sold at affordable prices. You can find out more information about our 100% Organic Assurance.
Moreover, we do have good relationships with our organic product suppliers and constantly seek to educate our customers about organic products and lifestyle through our blogs and social media. If you have any questions, you can always turn to our friendly customer service staff who can guide you through our quality products.