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Organic food sales surpass $100 billion

Organic food sales surpass $100 billion, Source: FiBL and AMI

With organic demand rising across the world, markets are changing as large-scale retailers push for greater market share and seek to outdo one another to establish their green credentials. 

The world appears to be decisively turning its back on practices that are unethical and damaging for the planet. This is evidenced by the worldwide boom in sales of organic food and drink, which surpassed the US$100 billion mark for the first time in 2018, with global revenue increasing by 6% to $105 billion, according to a report published by Ecovia Intelligence. The largest markets are North America and Europe, which account for a combined 90% of the world’s consumption of organics. While sales remain concentrated in the West, the share has declined from the 2005 level of 97%, with organic sales growing in China, India and Brazil. Denmark has the highest per capita consumption of organics in Europe, and this is reflected in the fact that organic products receive great prominence on the shelves of the country’s general retailers. In fact, 96% of all organic sales in the Scandinavian country occur in general retailers (source: FiBL and AMI). By contrast, less than half of organic sales in France take place in general retailers, with specialised retailers accounting for about 32% of total sales revenues, and direct marketing also contributing a significant amount (12.5%). The picture in Germany bears more resemblance to the French than the Danish scenario, with general retailers accounting for around 59% of organic sales and specialist stores contributing 27%.

 

Organic food sales surpass $100 billion, Source: FiBL and AMI

 

 

Biocoop, drives France’s commitment to change 

BIOCOOP Key figures

France’s Biocoop project promotes sustainable organic farming and fair trade. Founded by committed consumers, the Biocoop network strives to place ethics and cooperation at the centre of its activity and development. It consists of 3,600 farms, 425 employee shareholders, 3 consumer associations and 20 farmer cooperatives. The over 400 products sold in bulk at Biocoop stores are 100% organic, and 23% of them are certified fair trade. With the radical changes taking place within the organic market, Biocoop favours and incentivises suppliers who, according to the project’s strategy “can guarantee stable development with ecological transparency and coherency”. 

In 2018, Biocoop opened 70 new stores, taking its network to 600 outlets across the country and its turnover to €1.2 billion. Biocoop’s products are grown on over 3,600 farms that have signed up to the project along with 21 farmer cooperatives. Meanwhile, Biocoop has expanded the project to the foodservice channel, which is also fast expanding. Offering more than 900 specialist products to 5,200 customers in this sector, turnover in this segment was up 22% in 2018. 

The project is in constant and rapid expansion, with large-scale investments in the last year seeing the opening of new warehouses to serve the different regions of France. The 54 trucks of the Biocoop transport company (STB) collect from producers and supply partners and deliver to all the network’s stores. Biocoop has also invested in marketing, using TV and online campaigns to spread news of its good work.

 

 

REWE and Penny eliminate 7,000 tons of plastics

In Germany, the REWE retail group has been selling organic foods for over 20 years, highlighting that the retailer doesn’t see it as just a passing trend. The retailer’s fruit and vegetable section alone contains around 50 types of organically grown produce and is helping to drive the further development of and transition to organic agriculture. REWE’s guidelines state that the firm monitors how its products are produced, as well as immediately upon arrival at its stores, commissions accredited inspection bodies to conduct product analyses in accordance with its own exacting standards. 

“Packaging altered for over 1,000 references”

Now, the REWE Group has published guidelines for environmentally friendlier packaging and has already eliminated 7,000 tons of plastic per year from its REWE and Penny stores. This has so far involved altering how over 1,000 references are packaged and discontinued the use of plastic bags in all of its stores in 2016. Using a product-specific analysis, REWE identified packaging groups for relevant plastic savings and further optimisation to avoid, reduce and improve packaging materials with regard to environmental friendliness, with the criteria binding for all suppliers. In the case of fruit and vegetables, this has involved natural branding, such as laser logos, or the use of grass paper.

 

Organic heroes to appeal to children

Meanwhile, to promote consumption of organic fresh produce, Penny has introduced a new concept targeting children: the Naturgut organic heroes. The idea behind these heroes organic heroes is to educate people that appearance does not equal taste; so even when fruit and vegetables do not visually comply with the norm, they can have excellent taste, quality and durability. According to a company press release: “Because no synthetic and chemical fertilisers are used in the cultivation of organic heroes, it is only natural that they have little quirks every now and then. This is exactly what makes them our Naturgut organic heroes, which can be found on the shelves at PENNY stores.

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Spanish fruit and vegetable exports drop in 2018

 

Spain’s exports of fresh fruits and vegetables in the first seven months of 2018 totalled €8.2 billion, matching the 2017 figure for the same period of 2017. Volumes fell by 1% to 4.2 million tons, according to data published by Spain’s General Directorate of Customs.

Fruit exports increased by 2.6% in value, amounting to €4.85 billion, while volumes fell by 5.3%. The fall in volumes was mainly due to adverse weather conditions and affected most products, but especially stone fruits. Peach exports fell by 20% in volume and 5.4% in value (200,000 tons and €227 million respectively), the nectarines fell by 26% in volume and 9% in value (199,000 tons and €249.6 million respectively), and plums fell by 43% in volume and 29% in value (23,880 tons and €32.4 million). 

Strawberry exports also dropped 11% in volume and 2% less in value (264,500 tons and €557.7 million). However, blueberry  exports increased by 18.5% in volume (52,689 tons) and raspberry shipments were up 8% to 38,000 tons. 

 

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Italian kiwi production back to normal

Italian kiwi production back to normal

 

After a difficult 2017/18 campaign, Italy’s kiwi production for 2018/19 is expected to return to normal levels of around 435,000 tons, according to data published by the Italian Fresh Produce Service Centre (CSO). While green varieties are expected to be up 13% to 373,500 tons, this level is still 16% below the 2014-2017 average due to various health issues that affected the country’s plants, including root asphyxia, Psa bacterial disease, and brown marmorated stink bug. Meanwhile, yellow varieties are expected to rocket 64%, to 61,700 tons, with new orchards starting production, mainly in Lazio and Veneto. Indeed, the production area of yellow varieties has expanded by 40% (2,860 ha), more than offsetting a 2% fall in area of green varieties (22,360 ha). The overall quality for the campaign is reported as good. 

Due to the smaller 2017/18 harvest, Italy’s kiwi exports in the period January-July 2018 were down 15% from the levels of 2017. Shipments to the Italy’s main export markets Germany and Spain were down 13% and Spain 21% respectively. Meanwhile, Italy’s kiwi imports climbed 3% over the same period, with the greatest increases coming from Chile (+5%) and New Zealand (+38%).

TAGS: Kiwi, Italy, 2018

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Large European Conference crop in 2018

Large European Conference crop in 2018

Europe’s 2018 Conference pear crop is 9% above the three-year average (2015-2017), thanks to growth in all of the three main producing countries: the Netherlands (+13%), Belgium (+7%) and France (+7%). The French crop has smaller calibres than previous years due to the hot weather, which precipitated collection. Domestic production is under threat from the large Belgian and Dutch crops, putting pressure on prices, despite locals preferring French products.

The Comice variety took over from Conference in February. Then, in March, the conservation chambers were opened and the fruit ripened rapidly, leading to less stable quality. The campaign drew to a close at the start of April.

 

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Contrasting fortunes for EU peach and nectarine producers

Contrasting fortunes for EU peach and nectarine producers

After a positive 2016 campaign for EU peach and nectarine producers, 2017 was somewhat more complicated. The 2018 campaign saw a smaller crop due to frost damage in many areas of Europe. However, the pattern was not uniform across the EU. Despite the lower volumes of Italian and Spanish production, prices remained relatively low, although not as low as in 2017. Nevertheless, they were often below production cost. By contrast, French production was more successful on the market, commanding higher prices. This difference in price between French and Spanish production has been a phenomenon of the past three years now, and is no doubt the result of the efforts made by the French industry to develop the quality of its products, service, promotion, and collective actions such as environmentally responsible orchards. It is also the effect of the popularity of “Made in France” products in general, which makes the French more confident in domestic production than in foreign imports.

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Hard times for EU apricot sector

Hard times for EU apricot sector

The 2018 apricot campaign in the EU was affected by adverse weather conditions, which reduced the yield. Nevertheless, the crop reached 566,000 tons, which is 6% above the 2013-17 average but 17% smaller than the 2017 crop, which was an exceptional year in terms of production. The losses were not uniform across the continent. France and Italy suffered the greatest losses, while Greece and Spain registered production levels close to of their potential. The strong Spanish production saw large volumes from the outset of the campaign in May.

The last three years have been difficult for apricot producers, with low demand and prices. The cold and wet spring in France was not favourable to summer fruit consumption, resulting in lower demand. Italian and French production arrived on a sluggish market that was already well stocked with Spanish fruit, leading to falling prices. It was only at the end of June, when Spanish production began to decline and weather conditions improved that the market took off, although prices remained rather disappointing.

 

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World blueberry market expands 24% in 2018

World blueberry market expands 24% in 2018

The world’s appetite for the sweet superfood shows no signs of abating, with markets across the world expanding. Production struggles to keep pace with demand, prompting increased shipments from all corners of the globe throughout the year. Peru may soon overtake Chile as the world’s leading blueberry exporter. US consumers are particularly hungry for blueberries.

The global blueberry trade rocketed 24% in value to US$3.45 billion in 2018. According to data published by the International Trade Centre, total volumes of the precious fruit shipped across the world have reached 560,101 tons. Between 2014 and 2018, volumes traded in blueberries increased annually by an average of 13%, while, in value terms, the annual increase was 18%. The US market is far and away the largest destination for the world’s blueberries. In 2018, the North American giant accounted for 36.2% of the world’s blueberry imports, receiving 252,200 tons (US$1.25 billion). Trailing some way behind the US is the UK (10.8%), followed by the Netherlands (10%), Germany (8.8%), Canada (6.4%), Spain (3.6%) and China (3.5%). These figures highlight the close relationship between income and blueberry consumption. There is still plenty of potential growth in all of these markets, as testified by the consistently strong annual growth figures. The value of US imports rose by 29% in 2018, while German receipts of blueberries rocketed 41%, underlining the popularity of the fruit among the country’s consumers. Of the major importers, only Canada saw sluggish growth between 2014 and 2018; but, even there, the trend was bucked in 2018, when imports rose by 18% in value. The Netherlands is in fact a net exporter, as is Spain thanks to the countries’ well developed blueberry production sectors.

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French consumption of fresh produce falls while expenditure rises

French consumption of fresh produce falls while expenditure rises

The average amount spent by French households on fruit and vegetables increased by 0.9%, from €407.5 to €411.3 between 2017 and 2018. This increase is due to the average price rise of 4.6% for the 4th consecutive year, according to the Kantar report published by FranceAgriMer. By contrast, the average quantity purchased over a year has decreased from 168.3kg to 162.4kg. The price rises concern fruit the most (+5.1%), from €2.42 to €2.55/kg. “This increase is most noticeable in metropolitan areas, where average purchase prices have risen 10.4% year on year,” according to the report. The highest price increases were for apples (+12%) and kiwi fruit (+16.1%). The quantity of fruits purchased in a year fell by 3.6% to 82.3kg per household. Meanwhile, vegetable prices rose by 4.1% year-on-year, while sales volumes fell 3.4% to 80.1kg per household. Cauliflower (+15.4%), cucumber (+14.5%) and carrots (+21%) experienced the largest price increases.

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EU turns to Egypt for citrus imports

EU turns to Egypt for citrus imports

While Spain remains the EU’s leading citrus producer, the Iberian country’s production fell from just under 7 million tons in 2006 to just over 5 million tons in 2017. The continent’s next leading producer, Italy, also saw its citrus production fall over the same period, from around 3.8 million tons to 2.6 million tons.  Greece and Portugal have seen their productions remain fairly steady. According to Eurostat data, Italy’s orange production fluctuated greatly over the period, even overtaking Spain in 2010, when it reached its peak production of 3.7 million tons, before slumping to just over 1.5 million tons in 2017. Meanwhile, Spanish production fluctuated annually between around 2.8 million tons and 3.6 million tons. Orange imports from outside the EU climbed steadily from 2013 to 2018, from 810,000 tons to 1.03 million tons. The main source remains South Africa (440,000 tons in 2017/2018). However, Egyptian oranges are now providing stiff competition, with import volumes rocketing from 100,000 tons in 2010/11 to 325,000 tons in 2017/2018.

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Spain’s exports of fruit and vegetables totalled €12.7 billion in 2018

Spain’s exports of fruit and vegetables totalled €12.7 billion in 2018

Spain’s F&V exports fell 0.2% in 2018 to €12.7 billion, according to data published by the Sectorial Observatory DBK. Fruit exports increased by 0.1%, representing 59% of the total value, with €7.56 billion, while foreign sales of vegetables decreased by 0.8%, and accounted for 41% of the value (€5.16 billion).

The EU is the main market for Spanish exports, receiving 91% and 95% of the country’s fruit and vegetables, respectively. The largest markets in the EU for Spanish F&V are Germany (27% for fruit and vegetables), France (19% for fruit and 16% for vegetables) and the UK (13% for fruit and 15% for vegetables).

Spain’s imports of fruit and vegetables increased by 10% in 2018, exceeding €2.6 billion, giving a trade balance surplus of over €10 billion.