17 February 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

The appeal of organic foods continues to grow in Europe, presenting big opportunities for companies that can support this fast-rising consumer need, according to an export marketing official.

Agnes R. Legaspi, assistant director of the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), said that more than ever, European consumers are buying into the organic trend, noting that  half of European consumers think organic is healthier.

The executive shared that 56 percent of French consumers buy organic food and drink products. In Spain, the percentage is 54 percent, in Poland 53 percent, Italy 49 percent, and Germany 45 percent.

“Organic food and drink products enjoy a perceived health halo among European consumers due to their clean label profiles,” Legaspi explained during a recent presentation on exporting to Europe.

To highlight the strong growth of the organic food market in Europe, she said that in 2015, about 19 percent of consumers in France were buying organic food products, but by 2017 this figure had jumped to 25 percent.

Comparatively, 18 percent of German consumers bought organic in 2015, and 25 percent of them in 2017. Italy’s figures were 18 percent in 2015, and 27 percent in 2017, while Spain registered 12 percent and 23 percent and Poland 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Legaspi said the world consumer market for organic food products broke $100 billion in 2018 with Europe and North America representing more than 90 percent of the market.

The best-selling products are dairy and eggs. According to the European Commission in a market brief published in 2019, the EU is the second-largest consumer of organic food in the world, with €34.3 billion in retail sales in 2017 for a 37-percent global market share, behind the US with 47 percent.

“Over the last 10 years, the EU market doubled its size, and it continues growing at a significant pace [11 percent in 2017 compared to 2016], indicating that it has not yet reached its maturity stage,” the brief read.

Health concerns are the main driver for organic consumption, it continued. Environmental benefits of organic production and the growing concern over the effects on health of excessive exposure to pesticides and overuse of antibiotics are contributing to building a positive consumer attitude toward more natural alternatives.

The largest EU markets for organic food products currently are Germany and France, while demand in Denmark and Sweden is expanding substantially, it added. The EU report further stated that organic eggs dominate organic retail sales, and that “the growth remains high.”

Organic fresh fruit and vegetables represent another success story, and have a sustained growth rate in Europe, while consumption of organic dairy, including organic drinking milk is also significant.

Conventional stores and supermarkets represent the main distribution channel for organic food products, accounting for about 75 percent, while specialized channels also carry these products, according to the market report.

Legaspi urged Filipino exporters to avail themselves of the benefits under the EU Generalised System of Preferences+ (GSP+) when shipping to Europe. For the Philippines, the GSP+ means that over 6,000 categories of goods are eligible for export to the EU without tariffs.