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European Organic Food Market Continues to Grow

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European Organic Food Market Continues to Grow

European Organic Food Market Continues to Grow
August 26
13:42 2010

EU-27 demand for organic products continues to grow. The European organic consumer market is the biggest in the world, and was worth about $26b in 2008. The largest markets are in descending order Germany, France, the UK and Italy as they represent 72% of European organic sales. The highest market share and sales per person of organic food products are in Denmark, Austria and Switzerland.

In the EU, around 4% of the agriculture land is under organic production methods. Reasons triggering the demand for organic food in the EU are the series of food scandals, as well as the increasing interest in health, environment issues, and animal welfare.

Despite the current economic situation, the demand for organic products in the EU continues to grow as organics have gone mainstream. The most important driver is considered to be the predominance of large supermarket chains, which has resulted in a greater availability of organic products. Not only have supermarkets embraced organic products, increasingly they have placed organic products on the shelves next to non-organic products. As a result they have become available for a larger audience. Specialty stores of organic products still play an important role as they are also becoming more professional and offer a wider assortment than regular supermarkets.

Consumers of organic products in Europe can roughly be divided in two groups – regular buyers and light buyers. Regular buyers represent a rather small group that has been buying organic products for decades. This group includes environmentalists, lovers of nature, and socially conscious people. Although this group is small, they are responsible for almost half of European organic sales. Regular buyers tend to buy at organic specialty shops or farmers’ markets. For them price is not an important purchasing decision factor.

The second and much bigger group is quite different. Double-Income-No-kids households, older consumers (aged 50-75) and New-Trends seekers will fall in this group. They buy organic products for various reasons, including healthy lifestyle, food safety concerns, animal welfare, sustainability, quality and taste of food, price, innovative packaging. This light buyers group purchase organic products mainly at hyper/supermarkets. This is the group that the organic industry should focus on to generate further growth in the near future.

At the retail level, the distribution of organic products is different in each Member State. In the UK and Nordic countries for instance most organic food sales are generated in supermarkets. In the Netherlands the market for supermarkets and organic specialty shops is more evenly divided. In neighbouring Germany, discounters and supermarkets dominate the distribution market for organic food, predominantly under their private labels. In Spain and Italy most organic sales are generated in organic specialty shops.

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