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ThePartnership no. 14

  • Text
  • Vegetable
  • Breeding
  • Growers
  • Pepper
  • Products
  • Zaden
  • Cultivation
  • Enza
  • Partnership
  • Organic

attention to this theme

attention to this theme than their parents and grandparents. Bestsellers about nutrition and opinions of chefs and food bloggers encourage these feelings. Big business According to the American Organic Trade Association (OTA), food products that are organic in origin account for 5% of the total food purchases in the USA, amounting to over 39 billion dollars per year. According to this source, one third of this is spent on fruit and vegetables. The top ten of fresh organic products contains no less than five vegetables, namely: babyleaf, herbs, carrots, precut vegetables and lettuces. The large proportion of convenience products is a striking feature. Organic has become big business, as demonstrated by large takeovers. In 2017, Amazon acquired Wholefoods, known for its organic product lines. The Californian organic production company Earthbound Farm is now in hands of the French food group Danone. Growth market The trend in the United States also applies to other countries. The demand for organic products is increasing and more and more entrepreneurs are making the switch. Researchers estimate that the total market for organic products worldwide is 90 billion dollars per year. The United States is in the lead with 39 billion dollars. Germany follows with 9.5 billion dollars, France with 6.7 billion dollars and China with 5.9 billion dollars. Long history The consumption in German-speaking areas of Europe is most pronounced, considering their long history of natural education 16 | The Partnership China .9 billion France .7 billion Germany .5 billion Total market for organic products worldwide: billion and information in the field of nutrition and health. The German growers are able to sell their products in supermarkets under a special label during the three-year transition to organic farming. This stands in stark contrast to their colleagues in other countries. These transition labels, such as ‘Junior Heroes’, are well known and accepted by the consumer and are promoted by the supermarkets. The organised organic associations, such as Naturland and Bioland, are very typical for Germany. Not only do they support the growers during the transition phase, they also set criteria for fully organic cultivation that are sometimes more stringent than the official EU standards. One of the most important criteria is the use of organic seed, if available. In order to guarantee this availability, these associations work together closely with organic seed breeding companies such as Vitalis. “It is very important for me to work hand in hand with associations. This allows us to build a relationship of mutual trust and understanding in order to supply consumers with sustainably produced and healthy vegetables,” explains Melanie Molnar, Community Manager Organic for Vitalis in Germany. Retail and health food stores In the United Kingdom, the consumption of organic products is slowly starting a revival, but the decreasing spending power is not helping. Organic meal boxes are gaining popularity with the real fans. Companies such as Abe & Cole and Riverford deliver millions of boxes annually. However, the majority of sales in this country take place via retail. In the Netherlands, the health food stores account for the largest share. The younger organic concepts, such as Ekoplaza and United States billion Marqt, appeal mainly to the millennials. However, the major Dutch retails have also embraced organic. After initially only selling several products, such as pumpkins, most retailers now have an organic own-brand line. In the fresh produce section, many retailers are increasingly opting to offer only organic items for the smaller products. Examples of this include herb plants and orange pumpkins. The advantage of this is that the retailer’s profit margins increase, without the consumer being affected too much. In fact: consumers are sometimes buying organic without realising it. Emerging markets New countries are lining up to embrace organic, although these products do not have an official status everywhere. They are effectively freely marketable products without conditions or obligations. The popularity of organic is increasing in China and accounts for a share of approximately 5% in the supermarket. The retailers place these products on their shelves to distinguish themselves from the so-called ‘wet markets’, which until now have sold the most fruits and vegetables. The total share of organic is approximately 1%. Share of organic fresh fruit and vegetable sales vs. income, 2016 Percent organic 18 16 14 12 10 8 Sweden Austria Germany Denmark Switzerland 6 Belgium Netherlands 4 Italy France Spain Finland UK Norway 2 China Poland Czech Australia Brazil 0 Russia Repblic 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Income (x 1,000) Note: Income is gross national income in purchasing power parity, expressed in current international USD In February 2018 Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research published a World Vegetable Map including this chart with the popularity of organic vegetable. The share of organic in total spent on vegetables is somehow related to the average income of that country according to World Bank data. The buyers, mainly young families, pay about 30 to 50% more for the products. The growth of organic in China is probably also due to recent food scandals. People are opting for organic or products with a traceable origin rather than unreliable, anonymous standard products. US “It is very important for me to work hand in hand with associations” Melanie Molnar The awareness surrounding organic is growing in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. It is mainly the richer households that are able to make this choice. It is expected that it will take a while before organic vegetable production really gains ground, as the population is still quite conservative. Retaining the lead How can farmers and growers capitalise on the growing market for organic fresh products? Erica Renaud knows both the pioneers and the large-scale conventional growers who have switched or are in the process of switching. “The market demand has generated a lot of interest in this method of cultivation. Some growers have indicated that their buyer is encouraging them to switch.” There needs to be enough organic seed available for all this cultivation. Maarten Vrensen, Sales Manager at Vitalis, explains that a lot of new varieties emerge from the breeding programme at Enza Zaden, once extensive organic field trials have proven that they are suitable for organic farming and contain sufficient resistance. Vitalis has its own breeding programme for broccoli and cauliflower. “It is definitely a major challenge for use to keep up with the growth of the organic sector. According to European legislation, growers can only receive exemption for the use of untreated standard seed if no organic seed is available, but that is an exception,” he explains. “Large, specialised growing companies can focus extra attention on demanding varieties within their product range. But all-round growers, who grow a lot of different products, need to be able to count on robust, reliable varieties that can withstand suboptimal growing conditions.” The Partnership | 17

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