Hypes disappear but organic continues to grow

Udea is well-known within the organic sector. The organic food wholesaler has been supplying to organic food shops, specialist shops, retailers and out-of-home channels for years already. “Everyone is trying to get in on organic. Especially foodservice is increasing sharply. There are plenty of opportunities in that sector,” says Roy van de Breevaart, account manager foodservice for Udea. Growth within retail, on the other hand, is gradually decreasing, now that multiple suppliers have entered into the mix.

Organic popular
Udea consists of a complete assortment of organic fruit and vegetables. According to Van de Breevaart, organic is becoming increasingly popular. “Large retailers and even discounters such as Lidl and Aldi are going for it. You can really see organic products receiving more attention from a wider audience. As a result, increase in sales within our retail channels is decreasing somewhat.” However, the market continues to grow over the entire line. While conventional foodservice had it tough during the years of crisis, organic foodservice was spared. Indeed, out-of-home channels experienced an increase during those years.



Van de Breevaart: “During the recession, people stopped going to restaurants altogether, they ate at home. That is no longer the case.” Organic foodservice managed to hold its own in the meantime, because of the organic sector’s clear message, according to Van de Breevaart. “Visibility is important. The EKO certification clearly indicates organic products. The environmental aspect also plays a part for many consumers. Others focus more on the health advantages, because no chemical pesticides are used during cultivation. And the current BioNext campaign will only ensure more recognition for organic products.”

Government does pioneering work
Within the out-of-home channels, Udea supplies the catering industry, (corporate) catering, institutions, festivals and foodservice. Especially corporate catering is experiencing many changes. “We supply directly to a number of large caterers, and to companies that have their own canteens. Many large companies want to have a certain percentage of organic products within their range. For example, Udea supplies organic products for the catering of Triodos Bank. The government, which is also supplied by Udea, tries to do pioneering work in this. At one time, everything had to be 100 per cent organic. That could change at any time with a new government. But it is an accomplished fact that organic is becoming more integrated in the corporate philosophy of many organisations. Furthermore, organic managed to get a foot in the door of festivals. Especially larger festivals, such as Lowlands, represent a large organic supply. This fits their green policy, which encourages Zero Waste and recycling.” 

Hypes disappear quickly
“Developments within out-of-home channels are going very fast. Juice bars were advancing in recent months, we received many requests from customers who wanted to open something new in that field. After a while, only a few major players remained, who knew how to market the concept,” Van de Breevaart continues. Yet food trends tend to be brief. “Juice bars and the hype for super foods appear to be reaching their end. But just one book has to be published by an influential dietician recommending a certain product, and that is immediately reflected in our sales.”

Organic out-of-home channels follow seasons
Udea can supply many organic fresh produce products year-round. “In principle, we can supply anything that also has a conventional counterpart. For example, we recently added organic Coolwrap cabbages to our assortment. Many caterers choose to follow the cycle of the seasons, and adjust their menus accordingly. For example, organic corporate canteens will not offer tomato and lettuce in winter, but pumpkin can be found during autumn,” Van de Breevaart concludes. 

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