Given their health benefits, organic products have invaded the supermarket aisles, recipes, and kitchens too. While diets such as vegan or vegetarian have become popular, the demand for clean, healthy, and chemical-free bio and organic food products is recording substantial growth — largely driven by the expanding retail chains dedicated to such products, in addition to higher purchasing power and better consumer education.
By Sandali Tiwari, Future Market Insights.
Growing consumer demand for clean label and natural products have certainly sparked a movement in the global food sector. Retailers dealing in organic and specialty products are on the rise and mainstream retailers are making efforts to put their organic and bio offerings on the shelf. The new EU regulation on organic food production is expected to ensure superior food quality, environmental protection, and animal welfare along the entire supply chain as more and more consumers buy products produced with natural ingredients and processes. The organic food movement is also creating a positive influence on conventional agriculture—gaining from techniques used by organic farming such as including beneficial insects and on-farm biodiversity, thereby reducing the necessity of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and excessive tilling. Organic food is no longer a niche market, although it only accounts for a minor share of the total agricultural production in the EU.
Germany & Denmark – Prominent Markets
As per an analysis by Future Market Insights, a premier market research firm, while Germany remains the largest organic food market in the European Union, Denmark followed by Luxembourg and Switzerland are exhibiting promising trends in terms of organic products consumption. As per findings from a report by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the organic food sector in Denmark accounts for almost 10 percent of the total food sales—fueling innovation opportunities for the country’s organic food makers.
While fresh produce such as vegetable and dairy are performing well in organics, processed organic products including organic juices, wines, and convenience products are also maintaining a steady sales momentum. Organic food is no longer a niche category in the EU, even though it still only accounts for a minor share of the total agricultural production in the region. The first three quarters of 2018 showed positive sales of organic products in Germany, boasting of a wide range of independent organic food sectors and regional and national organic supermarket chains such as Denn’s and Bio Company, apart from the region’s well-connected network of Reformhaus health food stores. The presence of large domestic supermarket retailers such as Edeka and Rewe having their own organic label range and discounter chains such as Netto and Aldi, in addition to some big drugstore retail chains such as Müller, Rossmann, and DM selling a broad range of dried organic food products makes the organic and bio food sector in Germany notably competitive—translating into affordable pricing of such products.
Moreover, with increasing number of people living in urban areas, food quality and security is becoming a pressing issue, pushing production of organic products at a hyperlocal level. To make food production healthier and more sustainable, municipalities in Germany are working towards building Biostädte (organic cities), where organic food products are produced, processed, and traded.
As per the World Vegetable Map 2018 report, organic food products already account for more than 10% of sales in the European markets of Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland, with Spain being the largest supplier. Organic and bio products are here to stay and authorities such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) are well promoting the production and consumption of these products. MAPA in its 2018-2020 Organic Product Strategy recommends four key measures: better structuring of the organic sector, supporting the sector’s growth and consolidation, studying the sector’s role in environmental policy, and boosting domestic consumption.
Innovations – Ice-Cream and Non-Dairy Milk
Innovations and market demand continue to contribute to the overall growth of the organic sector across the EU. Innovative products such as organic confectionery, nutty butter, non-dairy milk, and seaweed are gaining prominence among consumers looking for novel food trends across the organic sector. Brands like Plenish are increasingly tapping into the growing demand for plant-based protein with non-dairy milk—considered healthier and better for the environment compared to the other variants. Considering that modern consumers are now demanding bio alternatives to animal-based food products, brands such as Rebel Kitchen are joining the trend with coconut based dairy alternatives such as its trademark product coconut ‘mylk’ and other products including coconut mylk drinks and coconut yogurt—boasting of all natural, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients. Clearspring in the UK for instance, offers healthy snacks made from non-GM, vegetarian, and vegan ingredients resonating well with the organic consumers.
Organic food innovators, apart from a novel idea or taste are also focusing on new packaging design, while definitely linking the product to sustainability. Cheese has also hit the market among other noteworthy organic and natural offerings—with no added colors, preservatives or artificial ingredients. Organic low-calorie ice cream was launched in early 2018 to address the growing demand for reduced sugar and calories. Moreover, growing demand for organic dairy offerings has not only given companies an avenue to launch new products but has also taken care of the milk oversupply left with the farmers—who now have market partners allowing them to make margins on products such as organic ice-cream, cheese, butter, and coffee creamers. In line with the current trend, organic fruits are witnessing extensive demand, with blueberries, raspberries, and apricots being the top selling organic fruits. Organic fruit producers such as Sigfrido Fruit, Procam Granada, Benihort, and Frunet are making efforts to organically cultivate fruits while strengthening their organic offerings. For instance, Frunet opened a greenhouse for organically cultivating cherry tomatoes while Benihort plans to organically grow close to 4,500 tons of citrus fruits and 3,500 tons of vegetables by 2022.
You can read the entire article in the Jan-Feb print issue of Frozen Food Europe magazine.