Stefan Hipp is managing partner of the organic baby food producer HiPP, that has production sites in five European countries and sells its organic products all across the European Union. Having studied agronomy, Stefan Hipp is an active organic farmer, and follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Georg Hipp, who founded the company in 1932, and his father Claus Hipp. In order to strengthen the voice of organic trading and processing companies in the EU, Stefan Hipp has served as President of the Organic Processing and Trade Association (OPTA EU) since 2020.

stefan hipp

In your opinion, what are the main challenges for the European organic sector?

There are certainly more than one, but to reach 25% organic in 2030 is the main challenge. Everybody understands the positive contribution of organic food and agriculture to common needs, like climate, soil fertility, biodiversity and health. But it is less well understood that organic has much lower negative externalities than conventional, but has to compete with its low prices.

How can the organic processing and trading industry play a leading role in the transformation of food and farming?

We should show the inclusiveness of organic production, how it takes care of sustainability, health and fairness and brings more and more benefits. Because consumers understand that we can’t proceed as we have done in the past 70 years. We have to act now to stabilize climate change for the next generations. As organic processing, trade and retail we can connect production and market demand and inspire the conventional sector to change their model.

«We should show the inclusiveness of organic production, how it takes care of sustainability, health and fairness and brings more and more benefits»

Which EU policy tools would be most useful in order to boost organic market growth?

When the European Parliament adopted its report on the F2F strategy, it took note of the Commission’s proposal for a directive on VAT rates that envisages the use of indirect taxation to encourage the consumption of sustainable and healthy food products. The Parliament further recommended to the Member States that they make use of existing tools in this regard, such as reduced VAT rates and green public procurement. This would be a short cut to stimulate inclusive organic production. Furthermore, investment in consumer awareness by mass media of organic as the standard in public canteens would boost organic as well. The combination of these three instruments would accelerate organic directly.

In which areas is OPTA currently focusing its work on?

On the practical level, we put a lot of effort in making the implementation of the new regulation as smooth as possible for organic processing, trade and retail. Some important topics in that perspective are the new import procedure, the risk-based approach with regard to residue findings, and some aspects of packaging in relation to retail certification. Furthermore, important parallel regulation has our attention, like nutrition and sustainability labelling. Finally, we have developed our Manifesto for Organic Climate Action, to stimulate and share the best practices of our members and share data on climate change.

«We have to act now to stabilize climate change for the next generations»

Is it now time for Member States to act on the EU Farm to Fork strategy?

Yes, national governments adopted the F2F strategy and the action to develop their national action plans. That is important, because the success of organic is strongly dependent on the national response. With our growing network we are able to exchange best practices that member companies and national associations can use for their political dialogue.

True cost accounting: how can we achieve it?

The models we have to differentiate costs for ecological and social externalities in agriculture and food production are getting more and more sophisticated. We are ready to show price-differences on the shelves. What we need now are innovative governments that are willing to take up the instrument for a set of selected impacts, like climate, biodiversity, soil and health and combine this with a zero tax for organic. In the meantime, organic entrepreneurs will continue to show the added value of true cost accounting and pricing.

«What we need now are innovative governments that are willing to take up the instrument for a set of selected impacts»

Is OPTA open to new members? How can they join the association?

Of course, we are open for organic trading and processing companies that want to raise the sector’s voice in Brussels and that want to benefit from the broad knowledge of the association and its members. In spring 2022, we will transfer our association to Brussels to be even closer to European institutions. Companies that are interested in our network or that need support in implementing the new organic regulation are more than welcome to send an email to info@opta-eu.org.

Author: Oriol Urrutia, Co-Editor

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2 COMMENTS

  1. «Bis 2030 25 % Bio zu erreichen, ist die grösste Herausforderung» - Gourmetwelten

    […] Quelle: Bio Eco Actual […]

    • Hello Stefan,
      My name is Godfrey Rathogwa. We have been together at Royal Agriculture University in 1993. I am just impressed and excited about your position and work of promoting organic baby foods. I would like to be one of your raw materials suppliers from South Africa.

      I would be grateful to get your direct email address so that we can start to discuss business opportunities.

      I look forward to your response.

      Kind regards,
      Godfrey Rathogwa

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