BioFach 2018: Trends, new products and the „Next Generation“
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By Katrin Muhl, Karin Heinze and Daniela Nickel
The demand for organic products in Germany continues unabated. However, in which areas is organic food booming particularly and what trends are to be expected in the near future? In a review of the last BioFach, we have summarised and discussed the role of the next generation in specialist trade as well as the question of how innovative products from young companies can find their way onto the shelves of specialist retailers.
The next organic generation at the BioFach opening. Photo © Karin Heinze
In 2017, almost all organic food products were in a plus position. This was explained by Diana Schaack, market analyst for organic farming at Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI), at the BioFach event "The German organic market: facts, figures, analysis". With the exception of potatoes, she said that in 2017 both the volume purchased and the expenditure on organic food have increased compared to the previous year.
More and more companies outside the specialised trade are picking up on the organic trend. Since 2016, food retailers increasingly have been making efforts to raise the profile of organic products. This means more competition for the organic food trade, which is losing its unique selling proposition. Sales of organic products rose by 8.8 % in food retailing and by 2.2 % in organic specialist trade (like-for-like 1.4 %). Of the 122 euros spent on organic food in 2017 per capita, 35 euros went to natural food retailers. This means that the specialist trade is hardly profiting from the growth experienced by the organic sector in general.
New products and trends
The BioFach Novelty Stand in Hall 8. Photo © Daniela Nickel
2328 new products were to be discovered at BioFach. 700 of these were on display at the new products stand in Hall 8. In addition to existing and established product lines and forms of nutrition, new trends were also discernible.
More alternatives for vegans
Although the vegan range has become an integral part of the organic specialist trade's product range, vegan food manufacturers are constantly developing new products to replace animal ingredients: for example, a vegan alternative to honey by Vegablum, meat substitutes from sunflower seeds or vegan cashew-based cheeses.
Photo (left): A vegan alternative to minced meat made of sunflower seeds presented at Erlebniswelt VEGAN exhibition. © Daniela Nickel
Golden powder and cold brewed coffee
Turmeric is very popular with organic producers and consumers. The golden-yellow powder is widely used in the production of organic food. At BioFach, numerous companies exhibited goods in which curcuma plays the leading role as an ingredient. The spectrum is wide: teas, spice blends for milk, cereal additives, cheese, pasta dishes, or juices from producers such as Sonnentor, Voelkel, Pukka Herbs, Yogi Tea and BiologoN.
In the beverages product area, coffee and teas from the cold-brew process (e. g. from Aiya Europe and Lycka) as well as coffee alternatives, for example from chicory by Chikko not Coffee, are in vogue. In addition, some organic beverage producers such as Voelkel and Schneekoppe also appeared with a rediscovered trend drink of apple vinegar, ginger and maple syrup called Switchel, which was once drunk by American farmers.
Environmentally friendly packaging
Due to increased customer demand and ecological aspects, many companies are trying to find alternatives to plastic packaging. Particularly chocolate and tea producers have already become active in this area. After a recent product relaunch, Ecofinia's entire chocolate range is now packed in Natureflex, a fully compostable film made from renewable raw materials, instead of plastic and aluminium foil. The same applies to products from Sonnentor, Lebensbaum, Lovechock and Gepa, who also work with compostable packaging. In order to protect the environment and to save their consumers’ time, Bio Planète has recently started testing a refill station for edible oils at selected specialist retailers. In the meantime, there are also more and more climate-neutral, fully compostable solutions for disposable tableware, such as those from Greenbox.
In line with other organic food producers, the company Sonnentor uses plastic-free, compostable packaging for its products. Photo © Daniela Nickel
Other important trend topics at BioFach 2018 included flour alternatives from legumes, nuts and seeds as well as noodles or breads made from these ingredients; vegan raw food, vitaminized food, regional varieties of originally non-native products such as quinoa or chia seeds, and additional new products such as Davert's basil seeds.
Watch our video with impressions and interviews from BioFach and Vivaness.
Clearing the way for the young generation
The next generation of prospective organic farmers and gardeners, young organic researchers and organic entrepreneurs presented their ideas, their products and their demands at BioFach. Including the request: "Let us have a go at it".
The pioneers of the organic sector started a great movement four decades ago, but now it is time to open up the space for a new generation, said Julia Huthmann of Jacky F., who brings young Jackfruits from a development project in Sri Lanka to the European market. Huthmann also added: “We stand for values and would like to get a chance to pass on our ideas.”
Jasmin Maiwald (left) has now entered Govinda's management team. Photo © Daniela Nickel
Jasmin Maiwald, the next generation at Govinda, is also full of enthusiasm. On the occasion of the 30th birthday of the manufacturer of vegan specialities, Doris Maiwald's daughter joins the management team. She appreciates the performance of her mother and wants to continue the company's tradition, but also remain innovative. "We will rock this together with the organic food industry. I believe in it," said the young entrepreneur.
Bringing innovative products to the shelves
Even before the BioFach, Nicolas Scharioth of Pollion - mobile market research for the organic sector surveyed more than 1,300 participants of the online panel biopinio on what they as consumers understand by an innovative product. Important criteria for the majority of respondents were that it should include a novel idea, a new taste or a new packaging design. It is also interesting that the term innovation is linked to sustainability.
The panel discussion focused on how innovative brands of young companies can approach retailers (f.l.t.r: Dirk Siemenowski from Foodies & Friends, Manuel Pundt from Bio Company, Fabian Ganz from biovista and Karin Heinze from the publisher bio verlag). Photo © Karin Heinze
These criteria also apply to the listing decision in retail. This became clear during the panel discussion "Retailers and product innovations". Manuel Pundt, buyer at Bio Company explained that many young brands were given a chance. After all, 72% of the respondents of biopinio said: “I like to try out new products I've never bought before." In addition, the specialist trade is perceived as an innovative purchasing point: 27% of consumers agreed with the statement on "new, innovative products are available primarily in organic shops and supermarkets" - only 7% agreed with this for food retailers. However, 67% see innovative products in organic shops and food retailers alike.
According to Fabian Ganz from biovista Marktforschung, 2,700 new products were launched within the organic sector last year. In fact, young companies need a lot of patience before they see their products in the retail’s shelves. According to Ganz, 65% of all products disappear in the first year and only 5% of these articles make it into half of all German organic food stores. Even despite the fact that, according to Ganz, there are many excellent items from start-ups among these new products. This was also confirmed by trend scout and "innovation wholesaler" Dirk Siemenowski of Foodies & Friends.
A number of start-ups said that they are aiming for a listing in the organic food trade, but this is often quite difficult, especially for the products that were listed in the food retail trade first. The lack of willingness to list new brands is partly due to the innovative power of existing brands. However, successful brand launches of the past few years have shown that this could change. Enlivening the specialist trade as a place of innovation would be desirable and would appeal customers. In addition, start-up companies also expressed a desire for more cooperation with organic pioneers.
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