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Luxembourg’s organic marketing initiatives celebrate 25th anniversary

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

In Luxembourg they’re celebrating: the organic marketing companies that originated in the organic farmers’ cooperative BIOG are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2014. It all began when the Bio-Bauere-Genossenschaft Lëtzebuerg (BIOG) was founded in 1989. It brought together committed organic farmers and market gardeners in order to facilitate the joint processing and marketing of their products. The first tangible achievement of the new solidarity-based organization came in1989 when a small farm dairy was set up that specialised in the manufacture of  hard cheese and quark (“Stoffi”) made from BIOG milk.

(Picture: As well as a big Naturata Bio Marché and the store Naturata Biobau, the Oikopolis II building in Munsbach is also home to a Naturata organic restaurant with a sun terrace)

At first they also milled and packaged their own grain, but when they tried to market this and other products via the fixed-location organic retail trade they discovered that the existing shops were not prepared for this kind of offering. This incentivized them to create a central sales outlet for their products. At the end of 1989 they founded a SARL (= limited company) to take over the running of the store in Luxembourg City. The retail company thus created was called - with the agreement of the German owners of the organic food supplier with the same name – Naturata Luxembourg. (Picture: The traditional Luxembourg rustic bread – Bauerebrout – is a favourite of the Oiko bakery, that can call on over 30 years of experience in organic bakery goods and is still coming up with innovative ideas)

(Pictures: The owners of the Meyers farm shop have used ecological building materials both inside and outside. A view of the rustic interior through the shop’s panorama windows. As well as a wide selection of cheeses, bread and bakery goods, it’s the fruit and vegetables that catch your eye in Naturata stores.With organic fingerfood from the House of BIOG and the obligatory drink – a "Pättchen", organic of course – they celebrated the official opening of the Naturata organic farm shop at Meyers farm (from left to right): Mayor Pia Flammang-Risch, Änder Schanck (Oikopolis), Secretary of State Francine Closener, Roland Majerus (Naturata) and Guy and Sylvie Meyers-Weis with their youngest child Emil.)

This kind of marketing was so successful that a third actor soon joined in: the organic wholesaler Biogros. The firm, founded in 1992, distributes home-produced organics in Luxembourg, imports organic goods from its neighbours Germany and France and has taken over other, mainly logistics, activities in the manufacturing process and in packaging. In 1994, Biogros concluded a Demeter specialist trade contract with the Luxembourg supermarket chain Cactus, with joint discussion of the market at its core. The partnership caught on, and consequently Biogros entered into further cooperation agreements. They have moved a long way from being a business run from a garage.

In order to aggregate the power residing in each of the companies, at the end of the 1990s they planned a centre that grouped together the core structures and a number of other activities under one roof. In 2001, the first building of the so-called Oikopolis Centre to the west of the capital was inaugurated. The name of the programme: the Greek words oikos (domestic and   business community) and polis (an ancient form of civic society) are indicative of the principle of solidarity inherent in the business community that developed out of the organic famers’ cooperative BIOG and that forms a transparent bridge between them and the consumer. Since those days, the basic structure of the partner businesses has continued to develop. In 2005, with the founding of Oikopolis Participations, a holding company was created at the heart of the cooperative network, that now as a joint stock company offers consumers the opportunity to participate alongside organic farmers and market garden operators. (Picture: In 2006, the second phase of the Oikopolis Centre opened in the enterprise park at Munsbach)

The biggest business in the whole network, that now incorporates an organic baker, a second farm cheese maker, an egg noodle manufacturer and a Demeter farm complex, continues to be the organic retailer Naturata, that operates ten stores –seven of which are Bio Marché outlets in urban locations and three of which are farm shops with a reduced offering in the general organic category but with individual specialisation in products of the particular farm.

(Pictures: The two BIOG farm dairies work closely together in the production of hard and soft cheese varieties. Naturata shop on the Kass farm; High-stack shelves in the Biogros warehouse.  Kass farm, opened in 2013 on the edge of the village, benefits as a newly conceived complex)

With the inauguration of Naturata Biobau in March 2013 in the Oikopolis Centre, the Naturata family now has a new member. But expanding the family – highly competent in building biology – has in no way brought a newcomer in the field of eco living. This well established specialist store has come a long way since its launch: in 2010 the firm, at the time still in Bonnevoie in the capital, celebrated its silver anniversary. Two years later an expiring lease presented the opportunity to move to new premises. So in 2013 the former Biotop came under the roof of Naturata. Right next to the Munsbach Naturata organic restaurant, you can see an impressive display of valuable building biology materials that are visually convincing too and include furnishing items and decorative objects.

The current anniversary brochure of the Oikopolis Group gives a good overview of all these developments. On 2 December the anniversary year will conclude with a festive occasion, and it will involve more than looking back over the events and actions of this year. Those occupying positions of responsibility (and perhaps the guest speakers, including two ministers and a Secretary of State) will also turn their attention to the future and focus on developments ahead.
Download the anniversary brochure (in German or French) here!




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