The Organic Market in Switzerland needs Changes
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Markus Arbenz became Director of Bio Suisse, the Swiss organic farmers’ organisation, in June this year. Being an agronomist and former organic farmer, he has recently returned from Swiss development projects in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. As he stated in an interview with Swissinfo, the sector needs to take a new approach in order to reverse a decline in sales. Last year, the number of organic farmers fell for the first time; turnover in organics was slightly down.
In his opinion, organic producers need to adapt to changed circumstances – quality should be more important than quantity. Also, marketing should be improved. Farmers in remote areas are especially worried; in the milk and meat sectors many farmers are unsure about their future. Since markets are opening through the WTO and because of the relationship with the EU, farmers fear competition due to their high prices. In order to support their members, Bio Suisse should market their products, explore new markets and new potential, including in the export sector.
Markus Arbenz states that ecology has a high priority in the Swiss Constitution, but at the level of legislation authorities do not implement the terms of the Constitution in an adequate manner. There is a lot of pressure from lobby groups, saying that it is too expensive to support ecology. But he also states that it is not the Government’s duty to solve all of their problems. The organisation would like to be able to develop, to export or to bring innovations to the markets without being burdened by bureaucracy or customs. In comparison with other countries, production costs have fallen very fast due to structural reforms, reduction of costs for input supplies and more efficient marketing. Bio Suisse should accept the further challenge of communicating the message of a healthier life and an environmentally sustainable approach in such a way that people understand that organic products are part of a healthier lifestyle.
Bio Suisse is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. On August 18th, a big party was held in Bern for farmers, producers, consumers and anyone interested. The history of organic produce in Switzerland is the one of great success, according to Markus Arbenz. When it comes to the consumption of organic products, Switzerland is still world leader.
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