Brooks Wallin (1956, France), who has been working in organics since 1999, is President of Organic Stories SAS, a Perpignan-based manufacturer and marketer of premium organic food products. Organic Stories produces own-brand and private label organic breakfast cereals, organic canned food and preserves, and organic fresh sprouts and Kombucha, mainly for the French market, but also for numerous other European and Asian markets.
Favrichon was founded in 1890. What is the secret to keeping a brand in the organic market for 130 years?
Although we have always been close to our roots as a cereal manufacturer, our organic business really only started in 1974. We have always had a strong sense of purpose and determination, and that has helped our brand in the organic market. We also believe that developing and maintaining partnerships with farmers and cooperatives has been paramount, as it has enabled us to source quality ingredients and remain constant in our mission and delivery of our products. Lastly, listening to our consumers and being attentive to their needs and expectations has certainly helped us to focus our efforts on what is really important.
What role does innovation play in your product development?
Innovation is very important to us. We always look to anticipate and address the needs and wants of our consumers. We also strive to uncover white spaces in the French organic food market and look for opportunities to add value and meet new, growing consumer expectations. Our approach to innovation has been like a live laboratory: we try new concepts, take risks, and see what the consumer response to our new products may be.
«Developing and maintaining partnerships with farmers and cooperatives has been paramount»
What are your values?
We value above all else transparency, honesty and quality. We vow to remain transparent and honest with our consumers and will continue working on our supply chain to ensure our consumers get the best quality ingredients. We believe in quality products and down to earth values; that is one of the reasons why we do not have any artificial or natural flavorings in our products. Our view is to try and keep food as close to the truth as possible.
How do you assess the current situation of organic production?
In 2022, the pressure on prices will have slowed or even reversed the rate of conversion to organic farming. In spite of these current difficulties, we still firmly believe in the future of organic food as the dominant agricultural mode of growing food for the future. There is no other system which is as clearly defined, understood or as carefully controlled as this one.
«We value above all else transparency, honesty and quality»
And how do you imagine the future?
We imagine the future wherein agriculture becomes, in major part, organic; we thus envision the percentage of organic to increase year by year. In addition to this, we believe that agriculture will become more and more attuned to regional markets with more local production. This responds to countries’ increasing desires to be sovereign in food and reduce food miles.
In France organic production & consumption has more institutional support than in Spain. Does it help make a difference, or is it the work of companies and consumers?
It is true that we have strong institutional support in France but that does not mean that passing laws or changing regulations is easy. We also need to work with, and sometimes against, businesses and/or manufacturing or distribution lobbies, which can sometimes constitute hurdles to the development of organics. To be sure, companies and consumer organizations play a very important role in helping to transform our food system to something more sustainable.
Author: Oriol Urrutia, Co-Editor
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