It is quite an understatement to write that we live in turbulent times. Even if you are able to narrow down to only the organic food sector, there are many more challenges than we could imagine during the Covid-years.

Time for organic
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In 2020 consumers in many EU countries decided to eat a lot more organic. Sales went up by 15-20% in one year. That was unprecedented and a good start for the realization of the aim of the Farm-to-Fork strategy to speed up to 25% organic in 2030. In 2021 we were still able to grow, but the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 caused a chain-reaction that hit organic much harder than conventional food. The parts of this negative chain-reaction were fast rising energy prices, followed by massive inflation, strong rising consumer food-prices and fast reduction of consumer trust. Organic sales in euros in 2022 were equal or slightly negative compared to the previous year, but volumes went down by an average of 10%, just the opposite of the increase in inflation. Together with increased costs for energy, employees, rent and higher prices for organic ingredients, many companies had a hard time making enough profit.

The war in Ukraine had another effect that we could hardly imagine in 2020. The conventional lobby for a slowdown of the Farm-to-Fork ambitions succeeded in the name of “food security”. Who talks about reduction of pesticides now? It is overridden by the fear for food security. Even glyphosate is, at the time of writing this article, on the threshold to be allowed for another period of five or ten years.

And still, everybody knows and is aware that the transition of our foodand farming system is more needed than ever. The climate change, the biodiversity loss and the health costs remind us every day that we can’t do business as usual anymore. Organic needs to be the new business as usual. And forget about regenerative in the conventional sense: a little bit more crop-rotation in combination with a little bit less pesticides will not help us out. Too late, too little. And selling glyphosate as a perfect instrument for a no-tillage system that improves the soil is just a fraud; false diversions to obstruct real change.

We can be sure that climate change, biodiversity loss, soil fertility, water quality, animal welfare and health will continue to remind society of what is really at stake. And we know what organic food and farming can contribute to this package of crises. It is time for organic to become the usual practice. Organic as conventional practice.

Author: Bavo van den Idsert, Organic Consultant| www.bavovandenidsert.com

Published in the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2024 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition.

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Read the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2024 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition