The benefits of organic production for the environment and people’s health deserve higher awareness and recognition. Organic production appeals to new farmers because it bears meaning and holds potential for future generations: 30% more biodiversity, no water treatment necessary, new jobs (the 13% of organic farms provide 19% of jobs in farming).
Organic production in France
In 2021, France became the leading European country for organic agriculture, with 2.8 million hectares devoted to it and self-sufficiency in organic milk, eggs and – for the first time in 2021 – organic grain. This leadership in Europe is not just valid in farming: it translates into the country’s position as the second biggest market in Europe behind Germany, and in terms of consumption – excluding tropical products – 80% of organic produce is sourced on French land (Agence Bio).
Organic consumption in France
Despite French consumers beginning to explore other forms of responsible consumption, the organic label remains the reference in the food transition and a source of reassurance: 9 in 10 French people consume organic products. An increasing percentage have become more regular organic consumers, whether once a month (76% vs 73% in 2020) or at least once a week (52% vs 47%). And 12% say they want to increase their consumption in the future. The primary reason for consuming organic is still to protect health (27%) followed by protecting the environment (13%). Furthermore, the French see organic as synonymous with enjoyment, since taste is the main purchasing criterion for organic products (important for 95% of French consumers).
In addition, the French have high expectations with regard to out ofhome offerings, in particular school catering (82%), workplace catering (75%) and conventional food service (74%). Nearly one French person in eight says they have heard of organic food in a restaurant, even though restaurateurs only use 2% of organic products in their menus. This is evidence that there is a long way to go in this channel to ensure it plays a full role as a growth lever and showcase for organic in France.
Following several years of strong growth, the organic market has recorded a 1.3% drop, but still nevertheless accounting for 6.63% of the French population’s food shopping
According to a substantial majority of French people, organic is a sector of the future: apart from seeing organic as contributing to protect the environment (87%) boosting biodiversity and delivering health benefits (82%), the French increasingly believe that organic farming is a source of employment in the country (76%).
The organic market in France
Inflation, exacerbated by Covid and the war in Ukraine, has hit households hard, who have cut their spending substantially as a result. Following several years of strong growth, the organic market has not been spared, recording a 1.3% drop (68 million euros), but still nevertheless accounting for 6.63% of the French population’s food shopping. These figures do not however reflect a global view of the market, since organic products have the particularity of being sold in a wide range of outlets, including specialist retail (3,000 points of sale / 27%) and direct selling (26,000 points of sale / 1 in 2 farms) (Agence Bio).
In parallel, the sales of organic products in supermarkets declined for two years running (69% in 2021 as against 74% in 2020 and 77% in 2019) to the benefit of local markets (35% in 2021 compared with 26% in 2020) and purchases made directly from the producer (31% as against 25% in 2020) (Barometer on consumption and perception of organic products–Agence BIO/Institut CSA).
In total, organic revenue grew by 0.9% in cumulative year-to-date terms over the past ten months. Mass and specialist retail, direct selling, producers: all these diverse retail channels contribute to the resilience of the organic sector (Bio Linéaires).
The specialist organic network in France
While there have been two to three times more shop closures in 2022 than in 2020 and 2021, specialist shops are continuing nonetheless to open at a healthy rate, with an anticipated landing zone of around 140 new shops at the end of the year. Closer analysis of the breakdown of closures indicated that half of these are old shops that may have experienced difficulties in adapting to market change (digital, services, innovations) while the other half are more recent shops that encountered serious cashflow problems.
Natexpo, the leading international event in the organic sector in France, will offer an opportunity to get up to date on all the new market expectations
Furthermore, disparities between geographic zones beg the question as to whether some regions have reached saturation point. At the end of 2021, there were 6 organic shops per 100,000 inhabitants in the southern half of France, compared with 4.1 shops in the north. The growth of the organic market will probably result from higher quality territorial coverage, with shops opening in hitherto non-saturated catchment areas.
2022 has been a difficult year, and the organic sector has not escaped the trend, but a bright future still lies ahead, as long as the right decisions are made.
Natexpo, the leading international event in the organic sector in France, will offer an opportunity to get up to date on all the new market expectations, bringing together all the stakeholders in the sector in the same place.
Make a date for 22 to 24 October 2023 at à Paris Nord Villepinte, Hall 6, to meet 1,250 French and foreign exhibitors dedicated to organic, but also durability, eco-responsibility, loose and bulk goods, vegan, local sourcing and CSR: all trends at the heart of consumer expectations today. 18,000 trade visitors are expected to attend these three days of meetings and business. They will have the opportunity to contribute to this new elan in the organic sector and get up to speed on the sector’s burning topics through 200 talks and round tables, presented by organic market specialists. Visit www.natexpo.com for further information.
- Boost your presence in the French Organic Market Advertise in the Natexpo 2023 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition here
Published in the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2023 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition.
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Read the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2023 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition