Andre Leu, chairperson of the organic federation of Australia (OFA) revealed that talks to begin developing the Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce will take place on 7 May, even without securing representation from the final two organisations chosen to discuss the issue. Leu hopes that Australia's organic food industry will benefit from the establishment of organic standards that ensure consumer satisfaction both in terms of quality and safety. Organic food and beverage products are becoming an increasingly important stream of revenue for processors in the country, due to consumer concerns with the quality of non-organic and GM ingredients. Confirmation of the talks came after Standards Australia, the board responsible for setting up the committee, last week denied media reports that it finalised representatives for the committee. Leu stressed however that this would not delay work on the organic standards, which already had sufficient representation from 16 of the 18 short listed parties to begin the discussions. The OFA called for the implementation of the national standards to ensure consumer faith in organic products, by acting as a basis for domestic regulation in the country, after consultation with authorities in the country. "It was the Australian Government that proposed that an Australian Standard was the correct way to get domestic regulation," Leu told AP-Foodtechnology.com. "It took a lot of consultation and investigation before we decided that this was the only option." A similar standard is already in place for the country's exports of organic food, and the OFA is keen that domestic market for organic foods is finally following suite. He added that the standards, which would be used by the industry to define organic production techniques, allowable inputs and prohibited practices, could conceivably be in place by the end of the year. The OFA has already begun discussions with the government over the possibility of enforcing the standard to ensure organic food production is fully protected in the country. Australia is becoming an increasingly important player in the burgeoning global organic food market. The OFA estimates that Australia currently ranks behind only Japan and China in the Asia Pacific region for supply and demand of the goods. In findings published last year by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), the popularity of organic food was found to have increased significantly. The research found organic food to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the global food industry, growing at double-digit rates compared to just 1-2 per cent on average in other foods. The report added that Australia could have a strong role to play in meeting this growth. "Australia's competitiveness in cereals and pulses will allow it to be competitive in baked products, noodles and pasta," it stated.