The organic segment of BelOrta closed positively last year with an increase compared to 2019. “A good result,” says Sander De Proost of BelOrta. “Organic is already a growing product group anyway and the corona crisis has had an impact on the organic sales at certain times of the year. Organic was already experiencing growth, but during the Corona crisis and lockdowns there was an acceleration. This increase is due to the fact that more and more buyers (+ 3%) are finding their way to organic products and buying organic more often. In addition to increased conscious demand, growth was also helped by more general market trends such as increased demand for packaged products. In any case, more people were able to get to know organic vegetables and fruit."
Sander De Proost
“We have a lot of plans on the agenda for 2021 for the organic segment. What we are going to invest heavily in is further differentiation. We currently have 114 organic references, but we want to expand that range. We are expecting our first organic asparagus in mid-April and we will also broaden our range of lettuce varieties this year, by offering organic iceberg lettuce, among other things. By broadening our range, we can continue to grow. Globally, there is still more demand than supply for organic products and to meet this demand we need to grow in supply,” says Sander.
To grow in supply, the acreage must increase. To grow the acreage, they are looking for growers who switch from conventional to organic cultivation. “Something that is not always easy,” Sander explains. “Growers are interested in organic cultivation, but they don't always dare to do it. If one looks at the conversion period of two to three years, a lot of growers drop out. We, as BelOrta, are aware of this and try to guide the growers in that process as well as possible. You have to give growers light at the end of the tunnel. That is why we are committed to guiding and supporting growers during this period. We will guide and help every grower who dares to take the step as much as we can."
“We have a very wide and varied customer base that buys organic products from BelOrta. We have customers who specialise in the organic range, such as organic wholesalers, neighbourhood stores and chains. But customers who buy conventional products also bring organic. We often use packaging to distinguish between conventional and organic products. We also want to take steps in organic packaging this year. We will focus on reducing plastic and use cardboard banding, sleeves and other packaging materials. We often have to use packaging for organic products, so we aim for as sustainable as possible,” Sander concludes.