The world’s leading organic food trade show — Biofach — saw a group of Irish organic companies travel to Nuremberg, Germany.
This is now the 12th year Bord Bia have hosted promotions there.
Biofach, organised by IFOAM (the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) sees over 2,000 exhibitors and over 44,000 trade visitors from 130 countries attend.
The Irish stand was visited by an estimated 350 international buyers, while Bord Bia also engage in direct buyer canvassing.
Seafood and meat tend to dominate the Irish contingent, both numerically and in scale terms. The show, important as it is, is primarily an introduction to buyers.
Bord Bia also bring producers — including organic producers — over to Germany on more tailored excursions during the year.
Similarly, the Good Herdsman in particular have developed longstanding relationships with buyers on the continent.
The timing for the companies involved is good, as the organic market — in Germany and further afield — is burgeoning.
The German organic market is valued at over €7.5 billion, and is the primary market for organic food in Europe.
The German market saw 11.1% growth in sales in 2015. This is an improvement in growth levels, which were at 5-6% in recent years. This increase was attributed to improved volumes sold rather than price increases.
Specialist organic food retailers are far more prominent in Germany than elsewhere — just over half of all organic food sales go through these routes in Germany, which differs from Ireland and the UK markedly in this regard.
Dairy products, oils, flour and eggs all saw growth, thanks to increased volumes, while growth seen in potatoes and vegetables was due to price increases.
Elsewhere in Europe, per capita spend is rising. Eight of the top 10 per head spenders on organic globally are actually in Europe.
While Switzerland tops the pile, Denmark, Germany and France are the most relevant of the big spenders for Irish organic companies.
Globally, consumer demand is also increasing, with the world market now valued at €60 billion.
In 2014, the Swedish organic market experienced an unprecedented growth, increasing by more than 40% — a remarkable rate for an already very well established market.
The US is the leading market with €27.1bn, then Germany (€7.9bn), France (€4.8bn), and China (€3.7bn).
A total of 43.7 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2014, representing a growth of almost 0.5 million hectares on the previous survey (2013 data).
Of this the most noteworthy figures came from Austria — now almost 20% organic. Of the large European countries, it is interesting to see that the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland all now also have over 10% of their land area certified organic.
These countries either have their own large consumer base (e.g. Switzerland, Sweden) or have a large consumer next door (e.g. Austria with Germany).
And while the UK is indeed a relatively large and enduring market for Irish organic produce, Ireland is hardly making the kind of use of that market that the Austrians are making of Germany.
It is also noteworthy how Austria and Australia use organic to certify huge swathes of their respective countries.
Australia has the largest global organic agricultural area — 17.2 million hectares, mostly grazing; while Austria has over half a million hectares certified organic.
Imagine if Ireland were this creative, with such growing organic food markets?
Participating Irish companies at Biofach 2016: Good Herdsmen (processing); Irish Country Meats; Irish Seaspray Ltd; Kush Seafarm; Marine Harvest Ireland (Irish Organic Salmon Co.); Natasha’s Living Food; Slaney Food; Solaris Botanicals Limited; SynerChi Kombucha; and The Little Milk Company.
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