The French organic retail market has passed the 7 billion euro mark in 2016, according to the annual Agence bio, a clear 20% growth year on year compared to 2015.
The annual Baromètre Agence BIO / CSA survey indicates that nearly 9 out of 10 people, 89%, have bought an organic product in the last twelve months, with 69% buying organic products at least once a month, and a hard core of 15% who use organic products every day. This 15% is a huge 50% increase from the 19% in the same survey in 2015.
After a year of headlines about the on-going crisis in the French agricultural sector, and with avian flu gripping the country the Baromètre Agence BIO / CSA survey revealed that over 82% of the French think it is important to continue the development of the organic agriculture sector, and 83% of those surveyed saying that they have a high level of confidence in organic certified products.
When questioned about their understanding of general role of organic products and products. The strongest impact stated was environmental, with 92% believing that organic agriculture is better for the environment that industrial farming techniques, 89% believing that organic produce are more ‘natural’ than those that use synthetic chemicals, 88% saying that they think organic products are better for your health, with 80% believing that organic products guard their nutritional qualities better than industrial products, 70% agree that organic products simply taste better.
The general understanding of exactly the organic regulatory regime has also improved. 91% of those surveyed knew that Genetically Modified organisms are banned under organic regulations, and 71% were aware that colorants and artificial flavoring are also taboo. The fact that organic certification means followed strict procedures with at least one annual control by the certification body was also known to 82% of those questioned. 87% also were aware that organic rules ensure a higher decree of animal welfare and a better quality of animal feed.
Motivation of French Organic Consumers
When questioned about their motivation in buying organic as usual the belief that organic products are better for your health headed the list, 66%, good for the environment, 58%, better quality, tastes better, 56%, that organic products are safer/less likely to be contaminated, with 28% quoting animal welfare as their driving motivation.
What they buy
What people buy has not changes much year in year out, even while the French organic market grows. Fruit and vegetables continue as the largest category, followed by milk and it’s derivatives, yogurt, butter and cheese, organic eggs, and in fourth place general groceries such as pasta, rice, with meat coming in fifth. This is no real surprise as it also reflects those categories with the least organic premium in the lead, with the highest premium coming last. The strict organic rules in animal density and fodder regulations will always ensure that there remains a large price difference between, for example a cage raised, hormone fed chicken, and an organic, free range alternative.
Where they buy
The French organic retail market continues to be dominated by the large and medium sized retail operators. Specialist organic shops, while growing, we now have both a Bio Coop and a Vie Claire in little old Lezignan Corbieres, still are frequented by 31% of organic consumers as opposed to 80% who buy their organic produce from the big boys. Markets, 28%, and artisans such as organic bakers, 41% and farm gate sales, 18% play a small but important role.
Eating organic produce outside of the home has also seen a small explosion. Local government , mainly Departmental and Municipal, initiatives have seen a rapid growth in organic food being used in workplace canteens, schools and colleges, retirement homes and state and trade union run holiday camps.
The European Organic Market
According to research done by Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the Agricultural Market Information Company (AMI) in association with IFOAM EU. The EU wide organic market in 2014 represented just over 26 billion euros, lead by Germany, France comes in second place ahead of the UK.
For the full IFOAM second edition of Organic in Europe: Prospects and Developments 2016. (PDF) can be downloaded free at http://www.ifoam-eu.org/sites/default/files/ifoameu_organic_in_europe_2016.pdf
For more information on the Baromètre Agence BIO / CSA survey you can see the headlines at http://www.agencebio.org/communiques-et-dossiers-de-presse
and download the entire report in PDF form here http://www.agencebio.org/sites/default/files/upload/AgoraBIO/dp_bio_barometre_val.pdf