Tokba – Organic farmland in Europe: Organic plan needs focus on demand
Tokba – Organic farmland in Europe… The EU’s targets for organic farmland will only pay off if consumer demand can keep up with production, warns Ecovia Intelligence.
UK research and consulting company Ecovia Intelligence believes a demand stimulus will be key to the EU’s ability to meet its organic production goals.
As part of the Farm to Fork strategy, the European Organic Action Plan is aiming for 25 per cent of farmland to be organic by 2030, up form the current 8.1 per cent.
However, Ecovia points out that although sales increased over fivefold between 2000 and 2019 (from €8bn to €42bn), organic products still account for less than 4 per cent of food sales in Europe.
To achieve the target, organic farmland and organic food production will have to triple over ten years, with financial support coming from the Common Agricultural Policy, greater research into organic farming and promotion funds.
The EU has revealed its intention to boost demand and build consumer trust in organics through greater visibility of the EU organic logo.
Ecovia also believes legislation for green public procurement is on the cards, with various governments, including in Denmark, Sweden and France, already encouraging schools and government institutions to source organic foods.
“At the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit, it will be shown how the private sector can play a more important role,” Ecovia stated. “Most of the growth in the European organic food market in the last two decades has been driven by the private sector, especially large food retailers. Supermarkets generate most organic food sales in almost all European countries. Retailer private labels of organic foods, such as Carrefour Bio (France), Rewe Bio (Germany), AH Biologisch (Netherlands), and Ja! Natürlich! (Austria), are well established and have high market share.”
Ecovia points out the need to build efficient supply chains from growers to retailers in order to avoid the kind of oversupply issues that have been seen in the organic meat and dairy sectors.
“Farmers can be encouraged to convert to organic practices, however there needs to be a growing market for their organic products,” it warned.
And boosting consumer demand is a challenge, according to Ecovia, which cites studies showing that a small group of consumers represents most organic food sales.
“Although there is rising awareness of organic foods, most European consumers are not willing to pay the premium,” Ecovia stated. “The price differential is the major barrier to higher organic product purchases.”
The answer, it suggested, was to make organic products affordable to all. “Organic foods should not be limited to consumer groups with high purchasing power,” Ecovia explained. “The popularity of organic foods in countries like Denmark (12 per cent market share), Switzerland (10 per cent) and Austria (9 per cent) is partly because retailers have made organic foods affordable. The private sector, especially discounters and low cost retailers have been able to ‘democratise’ organic foods.”
At the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit, which will take place online on 8-11 June, Ecovia aims to show how the private sector can play a bigger role.
“Most of the growth in the European organic food market in the last two decades has been driven by the private sector, especially large food retailers. Supermarkets generate most organic food sales in almost all European countries. Retailer private labels of organic foods, such as Carrefour Bio (France), Rewe Bio (Germany), AH Biologisch (Netherlands), and Ja! Natürlich! (Austria), are well established and have high market share.”
According to Ecovia, the 25 per cent production goal may be achievable, but setting an organic sales target of 10 per cent market share would be more ambitious.
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