By Maureen Aylward
The New York Times reports that with the global recession, organic farming and the organic industry is holding steady and growing. We asked our Zintro experts to comment on some reasons for this growth, especially in these tough economic times.
Carlos AgNet, an organics consultant who works in government regulation, says that supply is decades behind demand in the organics industry due to cost and complexity hurdles. “Besides consumer education driving demand, the future of farm regulation will create a more level playing field for certified organic operators,” he says. “With all producers being required to get a Food Safety or GAP certification in the near future, the regulatory cost difference between conventional and organic producers will narrow.”
Mashood Ahmed, and agro-ecologist and food safety and security expert, says that organic products are gaining market share due to a variety of reasons, such as farmer independence, better cultivation practices that allow the farmer to control input costs, and understanding the role of nature. “I have seen many farms becoming less mechanized and reverting back to the conventional plowing and harvesting techniques,” says Ahmed. “This means jobs, and I believe these shifts will keep economies moving in a balanced and rational way.”
Mayte de Groot, a specialist in the Mexican organics market, says that demand is growing faster than production. “The leaders in this space are the European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium) in production and consumption,” she says. “But many more consumers around the world are slowly shifting consumer habits due to ecological consciousness. Organic distributors and importers in Europe need new supplies because they claim there is not enough variety of organic products available in the market for industry and retail consumption.”
de Groot says that market researchers find it difficult to get figures about organic consumption because there is no official statistical data regarding organic yield production, trade, or consumption worldwide. “In Mexico, even though there are no official statistics about organic product consumption, Mexican companies in this sector are reporting sales increases over 20 percent each year,” she says. “This means greater business for supermarkets, distributors, importers, and farmers and more variety and choices.”
Dr. Jana Bogs thinks that the organic industry is growing because of the passion behind it. “People in the organic industry are on a passionate mission to make the world a better place. Organic farmers feel good about what they grow; organic product companies feel good about what they produce; and consumers feel good about using these products. A lot of people are aware and concerned about the planet, so buying organic is helping them do something good for our environment,” she says.
“Scientific studies prove that children who are fed organic food have significantly fewer toxic chemicals in their blood. As cancer rates rise, consumers look for ways to decrease their personal toxic loads. The extra cost for organics is justified, and we are seeing consumers voting for organics with their pocketbooks.”
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