Organics take centre stage at Anuga

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Related tags: Organic food, Germany

The organic food industry in Germany continued to grow last year,
despite a nitrofen contamination scandal. The Anuga food exhibition
in Cologne next month will feature thousands of organic food
products which show that there is still plenty of potential for
future growth.

Despite suggestions​ that the popularity of organic food might be waning in some European countries as a result of the high prices charged for many products, there is still plenty of growth potential in many other countries.

Visitors to Anuga, the world's largest food exhibition to be held next month in Cologne, Germany, will be presented with clear evidence of this potential, with almost 800 companies taking part whose product ranges consist wholly or partly of organic products.

Organic food sales in Germany took a knock last year because of revelations that many products were contaminated with nitrofen. A feed company supplying the organic farming sector in Germany unwittingly sold large quantities of the wheat tainted with the chemical, prompting the recall of products as diverse as eggs, sausages and chicken.

Anuga will provide an opportunity for German manufacturers to continue the process of restoring confidence in the organic sector. A section of the exhibition centre (in Hall 3.1) will be dedicated to German organic products and supported by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, but the organic theme will run through almost all of the specialised product trade fairs within the Anuga exhibition.

Germany's Consumer Protection Minister Renate Künast will also award the Innovation Prize for Organic Food Processing on 11 October in a bid to raise awareness of the sector.

According to figures cited by Anuga, the impact of the nitrofen scandal last year was not as great as had been feared, with sales for some products exceeding those in the boom year of 2001, when growing concern about BSE and other food scares led to an explosion in organic foods, perceived as being healthier by German consumers.

German consumers are now spending more than ever before on organic food, Anuga said, helped by wider distribution, an expansion in the range of products available and increased involvement on the part of brand manufacturers.

As a result of these factors, organic food sales in Germany increased by 10 per cent last year, with retail sales reaching €3 billion. Organic food now accounts for 2.3 per cent of total German food retail sales, compared to just 1.2 per cent in 1997. The high prices charged for many organic products mean that they also offer retailers great potential for creating added value. The average difference in prices between organic and 'traditional' products is 71 per cent in Germany, 76 per cent in Belgium and 100 per cent in the Netherlands.

Germany also lags some way behind its nearest neighbours in terms of organic food consumption. Organic food had a market share of just 1.4 per cent in 2000, compared to 2.1 per cent in Switzerland, 3.1 per cent in Austria and 5.4 per cent in Denmark.

Among the most successful product sectors within the organic food industry are grain (whose sales rose 8.4 per cent), vegetables (+7 per cent), milk (+6 per cent) and eggs (+5 per cent).

Part of the successful growth in organic food sales in Germany over the last few years can be attributed to the creation of an organic seal by the German Ministry of Agriculture in 2001. Designed as a visible guarantee for consumers that the organic products are genuine, the seal has made it easier to trade across all food channels. More than 860 users from Germany and abroad currently use this labelling system, and the organic seal can be seen on almost 18,000 organic products, both branded and own label, and it is frequently used in advertising campaigns as proof of quality.

Visitors to the Anuga exhibition, which runs from 11-15 October at the Cologne Exhibition Centre, will also be able to participate in presentations by the World Organic Supermarketing Club (WOSC), focusing on different approaches to marketing organic products in the European food trade, and in a question and answer session on methods for measuring quality in organic foods.

There will also be a special show, called Organic Products Galore, in Hall 2.2 of the exhibition centre featuring thousands of different organic items.

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