Fancy a national and indeed international profile for your organic food product? Plus an impressive €30,000 worth of tailored branding, as well as improved access to buyers and markets?

Then it certainly makes sense to enter the National Organic Awards 2016.

Over the years, Ireland’s most prominent organic brands — from Glenisk and Mossfield to Second Nature and Beechlawn Organics — have all entered and benefited from the awards.

Indeed, RTÉ’s Six-One news has on occasion featured winners on the day of the awards themselves.

This year, there are seven categories in the 2016 awards:

1. Best Fresh Product.

2. Best Prepared Product.

3. Best New Product.

4. Export Award.

5. Innovation Award.

6. Direct Selling Award.

7. Chefs’ Choice Award.

The latter is a new category, to reflect the growing importance of the food service sector. 

Judges this year include Galway chef JP McMahon (of Anair, Eat at Massimos and Cava in Galway), hotelier from Brooklodge in Wicklow Evan Doyle, this columnist, and some interesting new appointments.

Buyers from three international companies — Planet Organic, Ocado, and Le Pain Quotidien — are all being brought in to add to the judging team. 

This is a real lure for food businesses interested in export, as all three are heavily involved in the organic trade abroad.

Planet Organic is the UK’s largest fully certified organic supermarket, which offers organic food delivery across the UK and Europe; Ocado is a UK online retail specialist with a very large share of organic produce; while Le Pain Quotidien is a French-based bakery-restaurant with over 150 stores there (and one in Ireland, in Kildare Village).

In both the UK and in particular France, organic product sales are also rising rapidly.

The most recent statistics from 2015, show France recording growth. The French market accounts for almost €6bn, making it the second biggest market in the EU.

In 2005, the French organic market was just €1.5bn. Interestingly, supermarkets account for just 45% of sales in France. 

The area farmed organically in France also increased 23% last year, representing 200 farms per month converting, Reuters reported in May.

UK organic food sales are also strong, but still less than half that of France — a similarly sized country in terms of population.

In the UK, the market is currently about €2bn, and also growing, albeit slower than in France.

The awards coincide with the news that growth continues in the organic sector. According to Bord Bia, “organic retail sales year on year to late June 2016 showed growth of €22m, or 20%, bringing the total value of the sector to €136m according to Kantar WorldPanel data. Conventional grocery demonstrated just 3% growth for the same period.”

Last year and 2014 also saw growth, bucking some years of stagnancy and falling sales in 2010 to 2013.

The market in 2015 was valued at just over €104m, while in 2014 it was €101m — much the same as in 2007 and 2008.

This means that the growth from 2015 to 2016 is the most significant in some years.

Bord Bia adds: “The strong performance of organic is thanks to more consumers buying more frequently in the sector and spending more on each occasion.

“Consumers are increasingly trying to lead healthier lives — retailers are responding by enhancing their focus on healthier food choices such as organic foods.”

Organic vegetables, eggs, yoghurt, meat, oils, and condiments were cited as being especially strong sellers, according to the Kantar research.

See bordbia.ie/organicawards2016 for more. Entries deadline closes on Friday, September 9, while winners will be announced Thursday, October 13.

It is also worth noting that Bord Bia can offer mentoring for organic businesses.

Contact Stephanie Moe on Stephanie.Moe@bordbia.ie 


Lifestyle

Ovarian cancer has been dubbed ‘the silent killer’. Christina Henry tells Rowena Walsh why she is one of the lucky onesAgeing with attitude: Life after ovarian cancer

More From The Irish Examiner