French organic sector not affected by crisis

The organic sector does not seem to be affected by the crisis according to recent statistics in a communiqué from France's organic produce agency, l'Agence Bio. A success achieved thanks to the French desire to ''eat better''.

Over five years we have seen the organic sector in France double. ''At the end of 2012, 24,425 farms were producing organic produce, this represents a 5.6% rise compared to 2011 (1,290 more farms). Organic farms represented 4.7% of agricultural farms in France. The area used for organic production covered 1,032,941 ha, of which 855,644 ha is certified organic and 177,297 ha is converting (17% of the total). Organic farming represented 3.82% of France's agricultural territory in 2012.''

As for turnover, with 4 billion Euro inc. VAT in 2012 (compared to 2.1 billion Euro in 2007), the consumption of organic products in homes has reached 2.4% of the total food market (compared to 1.3% in 2007). The market has gone up to 4.17 billion Euro by including purchases from the industrial catering sector (169 million Euro).

Underlying trend
Are consumers turning towards organic produce as a reaction to the many food scandals over recent years including mad cow disease and avian flu? In effect, 64% of the French chose organic produce in 2012 and the amount of regular consumers (at least once a month) has gone up to 43%, whereas it was at 37% in 2003 and 40% in 2011.

This new form of consumption is also due to an awareness of environmental and global issues which go beyond edible produce. The 10th Agence Bio/CSA barometer shows that sales of organic produce not including food has gone up: 1 in 2 French people say they buy organic (49%) compared to 44% in 2011. What are their motivations? Notably to stay healthy (90%), having children (67% of organic produce users are doing so for their children) but also for the better quality and flavour of products (87% of organic produce customers).

This rise continues despite the high price of organic produce. On average organic produce is about 30% more expensive than produce from ''conventional'' agriculture. The magazine ''Que choisir'' noticed in a comparison in 2010 that the difference between organic brands and national brands is of about 22%. And considering the financial crisis, this figure is even more significant.


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