Visitors to Vitalis' 25th-anniversary celebration were able to follow various seminars. Erica Renaud of Vitalis' talk focused on trends and developments within the organic sector.
“We have to deal with changes in society," she begins. "The population is aging, and families are shrinking. We eat more and more convenience meals. People are also becoming increasingly concerned about their health and welfare and the environment."
These five developments impact the organic market. But what drives this market's growth? "Consumers are looking for more sustainable products. The production of these products must not harm the environment. This can be seen in the changes in the are of packaging - from plastic to more sustainable options. To combat food wastage, extending fruit and vegetables' shelf lives is becoming more important too. Genetics plays a major role in this."
Erica Renaud at Vitalis' 25th anniversary.
Erica has also noticed that consumers assume organic foods are safer and more nutritious. "This is because of the lack of pesticide use. In America, especially, a lot of people are concerned with food safety. Because of this, they consciously choose organic products."
"We are seeing an increase in covered cultivation too. Organic greenhouse farming is on the rise in the Netherlands as well. In America, some supermarkets demand this due to food safety requirements. There are also more than 200 certifications for this. The trend among American retailers is - the stricter the label, the better."
Focus on flavor
One of the most noticeable trends Erica mentioned is the focus on taste. "Consumers are looking for varied flavors, culinary diversity, and genuine quality products. They then share their experiences with this on social media."
Many people also like the 'local for local' principle. This is not always the case when it comes to organic products. It can, however, play a role in their sales. "Promoting seasonal products is increasing enormously," she says.
Erica pointed out that these trends can differ from country to country. However, the organic market fits in well with the global trends of sustainability and the circular economy. These trends are centered around combating residual waste. They focus on products that can be quickly recovered. "The climate is changing. There is, therefore, a strong need for products that can respond to this in a flexible way."
At the end of her seminar, Erica made a few predictions. "I think, in the future, conventional farmers will have to add organic crops. Because the large retailers will sell certain products, but only if they organic. I also expect covered cultivation to increase for other crops too. These include lettuce, melons, courgettes, and fresh herbs.”
Dutch retailers such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo are currently very focused on online sales. Erica, however, expects all retailers will get their own delivery service. They will provide a wide range of organic products here.