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France: obstacles for the growth of organic food sales

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Vegetables

In French supermarkets, organic fruit and vegetables are considerably more expensive than their conventional counterparts (Photo © Pixabay)

According to a report by EURACTIV, more consumers are getting aware of pesticides’ risks for health as well as the environment and decide to eat organic food. So, the supermarkets’ organic food sales are increasing. Since 2007, sales of organic have multiplied by 3.5 and reached 7.15bn Euro in 2016. Further, with making up 42% of all sales during last year, supermarkets are the greatest retailers of organic food.

Despite of these developments and the fact that consumers of organic food are willing and prepared to pay higher prices for alternative production methods, immense surcharges are withholding the branch’s growth as a study of the consumer association Que Choisir has revealed. Moreover, the study has unfolded non-transparent pricing of food distributors and doubts if price rises of organic food are really justified.

Supermarkets double their gains

Que Choisir’s study has unveiled that the price difference between conventional and organic fruit and vegetables is at 79%, this results in a huge drawback for the growth of organic food sales. Although the production of organic fruit and vegetables is more cost-intensive than conventional food, nearly one half of the price is constituted by the supermarkets’ profit margins. As a result, organic farmers only get back half of the price difference between conventional and organic food.

According to the French consumer association Que Choisir, these pricing structures bear disadvantages for all sides involved. Organic farmers are missing out on higher demands for their products, consumers are forfeiting the perks of organic goods and finally, supermarkets are putting obstacles in their own way as they lose potential sales within an important market. Especially two organic food products are marked by immensely high surcharges: Averagely, the supermarkets’ gains are 145% higher for organic tomatoes and 163% higher for organic apples compared to their conventional counterparts. Eric Gall, deputy director and policy manager of IFOAM EU, criticizes these practices as trading on the consumers’ motivation to pay more for organic food.

Drawbacks for organic sales

The greatest drawbacks for the growth of the French organic market are high prices and a very limited variety of products. In order to protect farmers as well as consumers, the study appealed to French authorities to enhance the transparency of prices. In accordance with IFOAM EU, supermarkets’ prices should enable all consumers to buy organic food and provide farmers as well as distributors with decent payments.


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