You have probably thought that organic food would cost less than conventional, especially that the production is spared the chemical costs, synthetic pesticides and antibiotics. However, in reality, organic products are around 20% to 100% pricier more than any known conventional produced equivalents.
In a world where the economy is gradually recovering from recession, that’s a price tag that most people can’t afford.
Here are some factors that contribute to the high price of organic food:
No Chemicals, Thus Labor is High
More often than not, farmers utilize all sorts of chemicals as well as synthetic pesticides because they usually end up reducing the cost of production. They do this by getting the work faster and more efficient. Thus, without them, organic farmers find themselves hiring workers for tasks such as hand-weeding, polluted water clean-up and remediation of pesticide contamination.
The Demand Will Always Overwhelm the Current Supply
In a 2008 statistics, the retail sales of organic food (all over the world) rose from $3.6 billion to $21.1 billion. It projects the fact that people prefer to eat organic over non-organic food. However, only 0.9% of the total worldwide farmland is accounted to organic products. As a result, organic farms tend to produce less compared to conventional farms. The latter have the farmland and the supply needed to keep costs down because most manufacturers are able to lower down the costs when producing larger quantities of products.
The Cost for Organic Crop Fertilizers is High
Chemical fertilizers and sewage sludge might not be something you want to see or taste in your food, but – whether you like it or not – conventional farmers use them from time to time. Why? It’s because they don’t cost much and the transport fees are affordable. Organic farmers, on the other hand, avoid these inexpensive solutions so as to keep crops natural; thus they use compost and/or animal manure, which are quite expensive to ship.
In order to prevent the usage of chemical week-killers, organic farmers utilize sophisticated crop rotation methods to keep the soil healthy to prevent weed from growing. After the harvest, they will use that area to grow “cover crops,” which add nitrogen to soil for the succeeding crops to benefit.
The Cost of Post-Harvesting
In the production of organic food, cross-contamination is avoided. Hence the organic product must be separated from conventional product after the harvesting stage. Since conventional farms produce more, the products are shipped in larger quantities. Organic crops, however, are both handled and shipped in smaller quantities since the production is less. As a result, the costs are high. Moreover, organic farms are usually located farther from major cities, increasing the shipping cost.
The Organic Certification
Acquiring organic certification is neither easy nor cheap, and for the typical farming operations, farm facilities and production methods, certain standards must be complied. Employees are hired to maintain strict daily record-keeping, which must be available for any inspection at any time. Let alone the fact that organic farmers should pay a certain amount of fee for the inspection or certification.