European Organic Congress 2021

European Organic Congress 2021 to take place online from Lisbon on 16-18 June 2021

The European Organic Congress by IFOAM, with the title “Organic’s contribution to the European Green Deal”, aims this year to inspire the participants by focusing on how the agri-food sector’s initiatives enhance the transition towards a more sustainable food system, through the aid of leading examples from representatives and experts amidst the organic sector. The New EU Organic Regulation 848/2018 will also be explored, while focusing on its implications for the objective of 25% EU organic land by 2030. We will dive deep into how organic districts, living labs and farm demonstrations contribute to rural development and the success of the Organic Action Plan. Moreover, organic’s contribution to climate change mitigation, with the EU Green Deal, the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies and last but not least, the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) will be key themes for the Congress’ debates.

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Apeel: plant-derived solutions to food waste

Apeel: plant-derived solutions to food waste


By 2050, there will be a shortage of food to feed the global population. One out of ten people will go hungry. Meanwhile, 40 percent of food grown today goes to waste. To address this problem, James Rogers established Apeel.

Apeel utilises plant-derived materials that can be found in every bite of fruit to protect produce. This layer of protection slows water loss and gas exchange of oxygen, which in turn delays spoilage. “We have a philosophy about how we create our product. And that philosophy is that we work with nature and never against it,” said Jason De Turris, Apeel’s Vice President of Brand Marketing. “We look to nature in order to use food to preserve food.”  

Apeel can be used for various kinds of produce, such as avocados, mandarins, lime, lemons, and organic apples. It makes the most out of food production, benefiting growers, distributors, and retailers. It saves water and energy consumption in the production of fruit. For each avocado serviced by Apeel, 21 litres of water and nine cellphone charges of energy are saved. 

Stating with avocados in the US, Apeel has expanded into Germany and Denmark, due to existing trade routes. The avocados arrive in Rotterdam from South America, while the mandarins and citrus come from Spain. Together with partners such as Nature’s Pride, Apeel continues to expand its market and products. For 2020, the company looks to expand in the UK and US, and also serve cucumbers.

The method used by Apeel was inspired by the skins and peels of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, from strawberries to peppers, which nature uses to keep them fresh. Made from materials found in all fruits and vegetables, Apeel creates a water-based formula that adds a little extra “peel” to the surface of fresh produce. This protection keeps the moisture on the produce longer and slows down respiration to delay spoilage. The process increases the longevity of many varieties of produce by two to three times. 


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Prince de Bretagne celebrated 50 years at Paris’s Salon de l’Agriculture: new branding and events

Prince de Bretagne celebrated 50 years at Paris’s Salon de l'Agriculture: new branding and events, credit: Prince de Bretagne
© Prince de Bretagne


From February 22 to March 1, Prince de Bretagne was present for the second consecutive year in the aisles of the Salon International de l’Agriculture (international agricultural show), with its 120m² stand shaped like a giant tomato and cauliflower. It was an opportunity for the leader in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector to celebrate its 50th anniversary with consumers and to present its new ‘The Market Gardeners’ branding to the general public.

Stand focuses on the knowledge
and commitment of 2,000 market gardeners

More than 50 market gardeners were to visit the stand during the event to interact with consumers and answer all their questions. The stand has been designed to offer an educational and fun experience to the general public. Young and old alike were able to take advantage of different events to discover or rediscover the brand, its 50-year history, its commitments, the know-how of its market gardeners and its wide range of 100% Breton fresh fruit and vegetables:

  • Exclusive and fun for all the family:  an ‘enigma game’ based on the brand’s history 
  • A giant colouring to discover Brittany and its vegetables
  • To mark the 50th anniversary, the public will be able to take photos at the wheel of an authentic tractor from back in the day   
  • 360° immersion in cauliflower, artichoke and tomato crops thanks to virtual reality glasses
  • Tastings to discover modern, quick and tasty ways to consume our fruits and vegetables
  • A seasonality wheel and lots of other fun and goodies!

Several guilds were also featuring on the stand.

  • Tuesday February 25: Coco de Paimpol PDO guild was present.
  • Wednesday February 26: artichoke guild was present.
  • Thursday February 27: Roscoff onion PDO guild was present with a demonstration of onion plaiting

A strong brand created
by producers for consumers

The brand’s history has been punctuated by key dates in the organisation of its production and marketing: in 1961 SICA in St Pol-de-Léon was created with the first sales at the clock auction (to ensure fairer prices for market gardeners) and in 1965 CERAFEL (Regional Economic Committee for Breton Fruits and Vegetables) was created, marking the organisation of agriculture in Brittany with a regrouping of three departments on the region’s northern coast. Today, under the status of a producer group association, this grouping brings together seven cooperatives (including five involved in vegetable production using the Prince de Bretagne brand: Sica St Pol de Léon, UCPT, Terres de Saint Malo, Socoprim and Triskalia). And in 1970, the Prince de Bretagne brand was launched, driven by the desire of Breton vegetable producers to have a strong brand, synonymous with quality and recognised by the entire industry, including consumers.

Fifty years later, Prince de Bretagne comprises Breton market gardeners with a daily commitment to ‘growing better’ and ‘good eating’ with a range of 147 100% fresh fruit and vegetables.

The history of the network and its ambitions would not have been possible without a unique governance system in which market gardeners are the decision makers, from production through to marketing and including promotions and communication.

Market gardeners, natural commitment, passion for growing:
producers (always) at the heart of the brand

To celebrate 50 years, Prince de Bretagne has unveiled its new branding, ‘The Market Gardeners’,  accompanied by a new slogan, ‘Natural commitment, passion for growing’. This communication is centred on people and is in line with consumer expectations. The new Prince de Bretagne visual identity illustrates the dynamics of a network in constant pursuit of progress. To protect easy consumer recognition of the brand, Prince de Bretagne is retaining its red oval logo adorned with a green crown (a logo dating from 1995 and restyled in 2015). The ideas of taste and freshness used in previous branding are now well established among consumers. In an increasingly digital and globalised world, brand differentiation is now focused on the authenticity and the reality of the men and women who cultivate their soil with passion every day and are the origin of every fruit and vegetable sold by Prince de Bretagne. Their expertise is emphasised by two designations of origin, Coco de Paimpol PDO and Roscoff pink onions PDO.

One of the essential values cultivated by the group is solidarity between producers. Prince de Bretagne’s producers are pioneers in the field of agroecological market gardening, which is the fruit of refusing any opposition between different types of agriculture, conventional and organic, and stimulated by the passing on of intergenerational knowledge. “This new communication – Market gardeners, natural commitment, passion for growing – reaffirms our positioning and reflects our passion for our profession and commitment, of Prince de Bretagne market gardeners invested in responsible and sustainable agriculture,” explains Marc Keranguéven, President of CERAFEL Prince de Bretagne. These new graphics will be available on the various packaging options offered during the launch of the spring ranges.

Renewal of a brand that’s always invested:
new Sustainable Development and CSR commitments

After the 10 commitments listed in the Sustainable Development – Corporate Social Responsibility Charter, which earned the group the special jury prize in the 2018 CSR Challenges, Prince de Bretagne presents its new commitments:

  • ‘Contributing to the development of organic production’   

With 120 certified organic producers, Prince de Bretagne is currently France’s number one organic vegetable producer group. Organic market gardeners intend to continue their commitment to ‘good eating’ and broaden their range to reach an offer comprising more than 60 vegetables and annual production of 30,000 tonnes.

  • Limiting the impact of packaging

The ongoing rationalisation of packaging will continue, in particular with the replacement of plastic packaging with wood and cardboard solutions and the development of the use of generic packaging (more than 80% of vegetables are sold loose). Some 120 tonnes of plastics will be saved in 2020 compared to 2019. This is being achieved by switching from plastic trays to cardboard ones for organic vegetables, the whole range of tomatoes in trays at the start of the 2020 season and for the CSU of Traditional vegetables such as parsnips. In the tomato range alone, this represents an 80% reduction in plastic volumes in 2020!

  • ‘Strengthening our agroecological approach’ 

– The widest range of ‘Grown Without Pesticides’ vegetables: in three years, the ‘Grown Without Pesticides’ range already comprises six vegetables: tomatoes, Traditional shallots, squash, broccoli, Romanesco and cauliflower. That’s a total of 10,000 tonnes in 2019.

– High Environmental Value certification targets: 25% of open field farms in 2020, 50% in 2021 and 100% within two years; and 50% of protected crop farms certified in 2020 with a target of 100% in 2021.

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Camposol works to defend water resources

Camposol works to defend water resources

Camposol is striving to reduce its water footprint, as a sustainable irrigation system is one of the biggest challenges in agriculture. For five years, Camposol has worked in cooperation with SuizAgua to measure the water footprint of its blueberry, avocado and tangerine production. The company also participates in the Blue Certificate programme led by the National Water Authority (ANA), which brings together companies that execute projects to protect water resources and generate shared value through work within the community. In 2019, Camposol was Peru’s first agribusiness company to obtain the certificate. Jorge Ramírez, CEO of Camposol, said: “All these initiatives are part of our strategy to reduce our impacts on the agroecosystem.” Meanwhile, to supplement production in Peru, Camposol is extending its avocado cultivation in Colombia, where it expects to reach 40,000 tons per year by 2025, thus approaching a year-round supply.

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Nature’s Pride increases commitment to responsible water use

Nature’s Pride increases commitment to responsible water use

As part of its ongoing efforts in the field of responsible water use, Nature’s Pride announces it has successfully piloted GLOBALG.A.P.’s water add-on audit SPRING. Six strategic growers from Nature’s Pride in Peru and Chile achieved SPRING certification, thereby independently confirming the legality of water sources, best practices and continuous improvement in on-farm water management.

‘I’m very proud that the SPRING pilot independently confirms that Nature’s Pride’s dedicated growers in Peru and Chile have excellent on-farm water management practices,’ said Adriëlle Dankier, CEO of Nature’s Pride.  

SPRING stands for ‘Sustainable Programme for Irrigation and Groundwater Use’ and is GLOBALG.A.P.’s new water add-on audit. Early 2019, Nature’s Pride agreed with GLOBALG.A.P. to test SPRING with strategic growers in Peru and Chile. The past six months certification bodies and growers have been trained in the new standard and in August and September, 25 fields with various crops were audited. All growers passed the audit and are among the first in the world to achieve GLOBALG.A.P. SPRING certification. 

Around two years ago Nature’s Pride took a proactive role and started work to better understand how water is managed in its value chain and where the company can improve. The Water Policy of Nature’s Pride summarizes this journey and outlines long-term objectives and hands-on actions. The company started mapping water risk in its value chain, initiated collaborations with expert organizations, and initiated action on the ground of which the SPRING pilot is a notable example.

The SPRING pilot is part of a wider commitment from Nature’s Pride to responsible water use which includes action on various levels: procurement practices, sector engagement and collective action in priority catchments. 

‘It’s in our nature to put people and the environment at the heart of our operations,’ said Adriëlle Dankier. ‘Water is one of the most precious natural resources and we need to protect it for future generations. We will roll-out SPRING to other growers and will continue to engage with key stakeholders in our value chain to promote responsible water use in our sector together.’ 

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America’s berry sector commits to recyclable packaging

America’s berry sector commits to recyclable packaging

The berry sector is taking an important step in the direction of sustainability with the announcement by a group of major North American fresh berry producers that they will commit to using 100% recycle-ready packaging by 2025. The group includes the California Strawberry Commission, the North American Blueberry Council, Mexico’s Asociación National de Exportadores de Berries, the National Berry Crops Initiative, and South American exporters.

In his statement, Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission, said: “Berry farming has a long history of innovation and leadership that once again came together to make this ambitious pledge. Achieving 100 percent recycle-ready packaging represents the type of continuous improvement that is common among farmers as they strive for ever improving efficiency.”

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SHAFFE’s future will be sustainable

SHAFFE’s future will be sustainable


The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) announced at its Annual General Meeting at Fruit Logistica in Berlin that it will be paying increasing attention to sustainability matters and climatic challenges. This was the message communicated by Konanani Liphadzi, CEO of Fruit SA and president of SHAFFE. The association also discussed the potential repercussions of the EU’s Green Deal for the international fruit trade and welcomed a new member, Brazil’s exporter organisation Abrafrutas.

Besides discussing how the association will respond to climatic challenge and handle matters related to social and labour rights, the meeting focused on reviewing the current situation in the Southern Hemisphere countries with regards to legal and volunteering initiatives. SHAFFE members will continue throughout 2020 to consider SPS, TBT and NTB market access barriers in the three key markets of Europe, Asia and the US and observe the ongoing international developments to tackle environmental challenges.

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Sainsbury’s commits to £1 billion to become Net Zero by 2040

Sainsbury's commits to £1 billion to become Net Zero by 2040

UK retailer Sainsbury’s has issued a pledge that its operations will become Net Zero in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, and a decade ahead of the UK Government’s own target. The project will focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging, water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating    Sainsbury’s will work collaboratively with suppliers and will ask suppliers for their own carbon reduction commitments. 

According to a press release issued by the retailer, its current carbon footprint is one million tons, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% over the same time frame. For the last six years Sainsbury’s has been awarded an A rating for taking action on Climate Change by the CDP, the highest rating of any UK supermarket.

Sainsbury’s will use the £1 billion investment to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating. The investment will enable the business to fulfil Scope one and Scope two emissions, putting the business on course for Net Zero a decade ahead of the UK government’s deadlines. 

The retailer will work with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, publicly reporting on progress every six months. The targets will align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. Sainsbury’s will work with suppliers to set their own ambitious Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Mike Coupe, now former CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably.  We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough. We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions – we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%. We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.”

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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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Edeka to stock citrus with Apeel technology

Edeka to stock citrus with Apeel technology, credit. yisris, Flickr
Source: Flickr


The Edeka Group is extending its commitment to fighting food waste by using the innovative “Apeel” technology not just to protect its avocados but also oranges and clementines. Apeel produce has a protective layer consisting of plant-based materials that slow down water loss and penetration by oxygen – two main factors contributing to decay of fresh fruit and vegetable products.

Apeel reduces food waste and makes plastic foil unnecessary for packaging many products. Edeka is the trading partner of US-based Apeel Sciences and launched avocados with Apeel’s protective coating at selected stores at the end of 2019.

Oranges and clementines are now following suit as part of the pilot project. In the future, Apeel’s plant-derived protective coating will also ensure longer-lasting freshness of Edeka WWF oranges (1.5 kg bag), Edeka Selection oranges “NavelGold” (1 kg bag), and EDEKA Selection “ClemenGold” clementines (750 g bag).

The Apeel-protected oranges, clementines and avocados will be available in selected Edeka stores in parts of northern Germany and North-Rhine Westphalia, as well as at Netto branches in parts in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony. The project foresees nationwide roll-out of these longer shelf-life products in Germany during 2020.