Irish firms exhibit at world’s leading organic food fair in Germany

Twelve Irish food and drink companies have been participating at BioFach 2013 this week, the world’s largest organic food fair in Nuremberg, Germany.

Led by Bord Bia, the 12 companies are: Good Herdsmen (beef and lamb); Solaris Botanicals (tea); First Ireland Spirits (alcohol); and seafood companies Murphy’s Irish Seafood; Kush; ISPG; Kenmare Select; Marine Harvest; Irish Seaspray; Connemara Seafoods; William Carr; and Emerald Mussels.

Mayo-based Emerald Mussels has launched its Organic Irish Mussels product at the trade fair, the world’s first seabed cultured mussels to be classified by the EU as Organic.

BioFach is widely regarded as the leading trade event in the global organic food and drink calendar. In 2012, the event attracted 40,000 European and international trade visitors from more than 130 countries to meet with 2,420 exhibitors.

Bord Bia’s Eileen Bentley said: “BioFach applies strict admission criteria to assure the constantly high quality of the products on display. The strong Irish representation at the event is testament to the high quality and standards of Irish organic produce.

“This event is an opportunity for companies to develop and maintain business, gain information about new products, learn more about various markets, and generally expand their knowledge base.”

She added that servicing the export market is both a challenge and an opportunity for many Irish organic suppliers. Bord Bia helps food and drink companies to identify potential customers via its in-market knowledge and international office network.

Bord Bia estimates that the Irish organic market was valued at just under €100m in 2012. Overall, this represents a year on year decline; however, yogurts, fresh meat, vegetables and biscuits have gained market share and demonstrated growth since 2011.

Organic vegetables and yoghurt are the most commonly purchased organic products in Ireland. Shoppers buy organic food on average once every two weeks with 91% of the Irish population having bought organic previously.

There are currently 1,692 registered organic operators in Ireland, with 52,390 hectares of land being used to produce organic foods which include meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, eggs, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds, dairy products, drinks and cooking oils.

For Irish organic producers, there are two main routes to the market with 85% of producers opting to supply supermarkets, while the remaining 15% sell directly to the consumer. Evidence has proven that organic food is moving out of speciality shops and into the leading retailers with Tesco, Dunnes Stores and SuperValu currently the three biggest retailers in terms of organic sales in Ireland.

Germany is the biggest organic market in Europe, with an estimated annual sales turnover of €6.2bn. This figure is expected to grow to €6.6bn in 2015. Issues such as sustainability, recycling and environmental friendliness are growing ever more important in Germany, a country with a strong green movement.

Potatoes, fruit and vegetables (29%), followed by bread and cereal products (22%), and dairy and eggs (22%) are the biggest organic categories in Germany. Germany also has the highest number of specialised organic supermarkets in Europe and dedicated organic chains.

“As the industry increasingly concentrates efforts on export opportunities, eurozone markets such as Germany offer the prospect of new opportunities and stability.”

“Germany is Ireland’s second most important food and drink market on Continental Europe. Ireland’s presence at BioFach is an acknowledgement of the importance of the German organic food market and of Ireland’s capacity to supply it,” said Ms Bentley.

Elsewhere this week, Bord Bia and four Irish companies will also have a presence at ProdExpo, the largest specialised food exhibition in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is regarded as a key opportunity to secure business and raise the profile of Irish food in the region.

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