Posted on

Bulgaria’s organic farming contracts despite growth in consumer demand 

Bulgaria’s organic farming contracts despite growth in consumer demand 
Photo: Pixabay

Bulgarian consumer demand for organics has grown in recent years due to economic stability, improved purchasing power, and increased popularity for products perceived as healthful. In 2020, the Bulgarian organics market was valued at about US$38 million (USDA data), with growing sales of packaged foods and beverages, but declining sales of fresh produce due to pandemic-related farmers markets closures. Demand growth is expected to increase by the end of 2021 and in 2022 due to favourable consumer trends and better prospects for the hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sectors.

Bulgarian agricultural land under organic production (fully converted and under conversion) at the end of 2019 declined by 9% from 2018. 2019 organic land accounted for 2.34% of Bulgaria’s total agricultural area, down from 2.56% in 2018. Certification, compliance, and domestic support for organic farmers remain as policy priorities for the Government of Bulgaria.

Conversely, the number of processors and traders of organic foods continued to grow in 2019 by 1.3% and 32.2%, respectively, over 2018. This development was encouraged by higher consumer demand for processed products, newly built processing facilities in Bulgaria, and increasingly efficient value chains. As a result, the number of Bulgarian organic food processors in 2019 has increased 47% since 2014 and the number of traders in 2019 has tripled since 2015.

Bulgaria’s organic horticultural area declined in 2019 from 2018. The fresh vegetable area declined by 19% and the organic orchard crop area declined by 10%. Nevertheless, vegetable production increased by 7.8% and orchard crop production by 7.6% due to higher yields, with pome fruits the notable exception. Higher demand from processors and for direct consumption for fresh organic produce has incentivised farmers to improve and inputs for better yields.

 

Posted on

Colombia invests in organic lime

Colombia invests in organic lime © Eosta

© Eosta

 

When the first shipment of Colombian limes from “Persian Limes” arrived at organic fruit specialist Eosta in Waddinxveen last week, they came with a very nice surprise. On the 800 boxes of fresh green limes, almost a hundred postcards were stuck with personal messages from the farm workers of the valley of the river Poblanco. For them, the first shipment of Colombian limes to the Netherlands means a fresh new start for the Colombian countryside, after decades of poverty and guerrilla warfare.

In early 2016, Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, travelled throughout Colombia with Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, and Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Santos was about to conclude an historic peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla movement, for which he would later be awarded the Nobel Prize. It was high time to revitalize the countryside after it had been destroyed for years by the cocaine trade. To this end, Santos turned his attention to organic agriculture for export as a dream alternative. Engelsman saw the possibilities and promised the Colombian growers help in switching to organic farming.

A better place to live

Now it’s finally here. With Eosta’s advice, Juan Pablo Duque has planted 300 hectares of trees in recent years and achieved organic certification. This year the trees really started to produce fruits. “Thank you for buying our very first export fruit!” it says on one of the many cards, stuck on a pallet full of juicy green limes. “These limes have been grown with love and passion, by people who love the countryside. We’re going to make our region a better place to live. Thanks for your trust and keep buying them from us! Valentino Bedoya, field worker.” Over the next few years, the area will be extended to 2000 hectares.

Both socially and ecologically responsible

Eosta’s lime specialist Nicolas Coste is delighted with the first harvest: “The limes are really top quality and are selling like hot cakes. Plus, there’s a great story behind it. The plantations provide equal incomes and healthy jobs, even childcare. They protect all sorts of native species of plants and animals. For Colombia, this represents a great opportunity to restore agricultural landscapes, to bring back agriculture and to change Colombia’s international image positively. It’s a really nice company. Check it out at our website www.natureandmore.com with code 410!”

Together towards a healthy future

Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, responded by sending a warm video message to Juan Pablo Duque and his employees: “Congratulations! In the face of Covid-19, it is even clearer that we need to make changes as regards biodiversity and agriculture. You are the pioneers of a future in which agriculture is not only about kilograms per hectare, but also about soil health, biodiversity, positive climate impact and health for farmers and citizens. We look forward to working with you for many, many years!”

Posted on

US sales of organic produce rise 15% in third quarter

US sales of organic produce rise 15% in third quarter

 

US organic fresh produce sales were up 15% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, totalling US$2.2 billion, according to a recent report compiled by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners. The Q3 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report details top organic items in dollar sales and volume sales and shows organic fresh produce sales and growth by region.

Bananas continue to lead in terms of volume sales, representing 18% of all organic produce volume. Meanwhile, packaged salads lead the way in terms of value, accounting for 17% of the dollar sales of all organic produce. Organic strawberry sales were also up 27.1%, to $136 million, sales of apples rose by 19.8% to $128 million, and blueberries climbed 17% to $118 million.

 

Posted on

Increased demand for organic produce during pandemic

Increased demand for organic produce during pandemic © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution

 

Sales of organic produce have surged in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, according to data published by Waitrose. During lockdown, the UK retailer registered a 13% rise in organic food sales, and a doubling in searches for its Organic Duchy range during the period. In recent months, sales of organic vegetables are up 23% from the same period in 2019, with 52 bags of organic carrots, 34 blueberry punnets and 39 bags of bananas sold every hour.

Rob Hues, Waitrose agriculture manager says: “For many the time at home has meant more time to prepare home-cooked meals and with that an increased awareness of where and how food comes to our kitchen tables. Provenance, animal welfare, taste and value have never mattered more to our shoppers and we see this increased interest only continuing.”

To respond to this increased demand, Waitrose has announced the launch of a new organic British blueberry range, the first time a UK supermarket has been able to offer the organic crop in commercial quantities from a British farm. The Waitrose Duchy Organic blueberries are grown in Herefordshire by a supplier who has supplied fruit to Waitrose for over 25 years. 

A recent survey by Waitrose found that environmental and ethical concerns have not dropped, as some claim, during the coronavirus pandemic. The study found that over half of respondents want retailers to show more information about ethical practices on packaging. Three quarters of respondents also said they wanted to see more British sourcing, and over 44% now actively seek out products with less packaging when shopping online.

Waitrose was the first UK supermarket to sell organic products in 1983 and its Waitrose Duchy Organic range has grown to become the UK’s largest own-label organic food and drink brand with 24 per cent of the current UK market share.

Posted on

Surge in demand for organic apples in US

Surge in demand for organic apples in US © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution

 

There has been a bump in demand for organic apples in the US during the current pandemic. And there is no sign of the fruit’s popularity abating as we head into the autumn. Some companies are reporting growth of over 25% in sales of organic apples in the past four months. The organic varieties performing the best are Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp. However, sustainability may not be rising hand-in-hand with the popularity of organics in the apple segment. Due to hygiene concerns, there has also been increased demand for packaged apples. In fact, while pre-Covid, around 40% of all apple sales in the US were packaged, the proportion now stands at around 44%.

Posted on

Sales of organic produce in US surge by 20%

Maggie McNeil, Organic Trade Association - Sales of organic produce in US surge by 20%
Maggie McNeil, Organic Trade Association ©  Twitter

 

Sales of organic produce in the US were up over 20% in spring 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had “dramatic consequences for the organic sector” according to data published by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The US organic market grew by almost 5% in 2019, reaching US$18bn, with millennials and the younger generations the main drivers of this growth in demand. However, according to Maggie McNeil of the OTA, the outlook is far from clear for the sector. The whole of the US economy has taken a battering from the fallout of the pandemic, which has led to less purchasing power for households. This might translate into more price-conscious consumers who are unwilling to fork out more for more costly organic products. However, the pandemic also appears to have made consumers  more health-conscious. This may lead them to shifting purchases towards more healthy options like organic fresh produce.

Posted on

70% of French bought organics during confinement

70% of French bought organics during confinement © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

More French consumers began buying organic products during the Covid-19 quarantine. In fact, during the lockdown, 7 in 10 consumers bought organics, 8% of whom were new to the world of organics. These are the findings of a study published by the Bio Agency, which also reported that consumption was up overall of organics, especially amongst young people (18 to 24 years old), who consumed 11% more (compared to 6% of all buyers). While most sales of organics were in hypermarkets (57%), direct sales also played a key role, with 22% purchased from farms, local platforms or Amapa (French agroecological consumer groups). These direct sales systems are particularly successful in rural areas, where 37% of inhabitants use these channels. Specialty bio stores and proximity stores account for 26% and 24% of organic sales, respectively. Sales of organic products using car pick-up services at supermarkets are up 17% in this period, while online orders (excluding pick-up services) increased 7%.

The report also notes that the current pandemic has raised awareness of organics among consumers between the ages of 50 and 64, of whom 54% claim to have purchased organic produce to support French producers in this sector. Similarly, the growth of direct sales of organics can be attributed in part to their proximity and environmentally friendly production methods. Almost all of the newly converted organic consumers (90%) plan to continue promoting bio producers, citing among their reasons the fact that these products are better for health (59%), are of better quality (57%), and are more respectful of the environment (56%).

Posted on

Bright summer in store for Californian grapes

Bright summer in store for Californian grapes © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution

 

California’s organic table grape harvest is expected to be decent this year, with steady volumes predicted throughout the season. With Mexico’s volume winding down quickly, organic production from the San Joaquin Valley is expected to begin by mid-July, resulting in promotable supplies of organic table grapes throughout the summer. Although it is not expected to a bumper year for Coachella grapes due to delays caused by weather issues, things are expected to pick up by July.  The unseasonably cool temperatures in March and April will lead to a longer and lighter season.  

Last year was very different, with huge volumes of both organic and conventional table grapes arriving from Mexico, especially in June, which caused very low prices for all table grapes. This has not been the case this year, with a strong end to the season expected.

On June 23, the National Specialty Crops Organic Summary noted that all three colours of organic table grapes from Coachella were in the $35 range for an 18-pound box.

Posted on

Argentina’s organic apple exports fall while pear exports rise

Argentina’s organic apple exports fall while pear exports rise

 

The EU (specifically the UK and Germany) and the US have been key markets for Argentina’s organic pears and apples in recent years. In 2018, 17,000 tons of organic apples were exported to global markets, down 10% from 2017, due to higher Argentine prices relative to other exporters.  While the US market for Argentine organic apples is projected to continue to grow, the rate of growth will slow as the US expands its own organic apple production.  Exports to the EU are projected to remain stable. In 2018, organic pear exports reached 28,000 tons, up 17% from 2017.

In contrast with the general decline in fruit consumption due to the downturn in the Argentine economy, there has been an upward trend in the consumption of fresh organic products, such as fruit and vegetables, especially in more affluent areas of Buenos Aires. 

Organic Production

In 2018, there were 4,700 hectares (11%) of organic apples and pears in Argentina. In Rio Negro and Neuquen provinces, organic acreage fell by 27%, as the higher production costs of organic apples meant they were particularly impacted by the broader crisis affecting the fruit sector (Source: SENASA – National Service of Agricultural and Food Health and Quality).  

 

Posted on

France’s organic producers rise to challenge

France’s organic producers rise to challenge
© Prince de Bretagne

 

Organic food sales in France have risen by as much as 40% for some retailers, which has put pressure on supplies. However, the challenge that this presents is not something to intimidate the organics sector. Brittany-based Prince de Bretagne has stressed its commitment to meeting its customers’ needs at home and abroad during the crisis, including for organics. As Fruitnet reports, the marketer provided an update on its organic spring range, with 55 tons of organic Primaline potatoes expected by the end of April and 617 tons of courgettes forecast for the season. The first organic artichokes are just becoming available, starting with Petit Violet and followed by Camus and Cardinal, while the bulk of the forecast 46 tons of rhubarb will be available in May.

May will also see the arrival of organic cucumbers, iceberg lettuce and a wide assortment of tomatoes, including vine, cocktail, Coeur de Pigeon, Saveurs d’Antan and heirloom varieties. Another newcomer for this year will be organic Oyster mushrooms, which along with shiitakes are expected to reach 11 tons for the season. Meanwhile, the first volumes of organic broccoli are expected for the end of May and early June.