Soil Association launches second Innovation Awards
Source: Soil Association  

The Soil Association has announced that their Innovation Awards are open for nominations. Now in their second year, the awards celebrate pioneering ideas in farming and growing across the UK. They focus on innovations that benefit the environment, health or animal welfare and are open to anyone involved in farming and growing - for example producers, scientists, farming consultants, designers, community groups, and engineers. Entries are open until 17th August. The shortlisted nominees will be presenting to some of the most influential people in the field of sustainable agriculture today.

The winner of the first Soil Association Innovation Awards in 2013 Natalie Davies, Managing Director of Ezee Tree Limited said, “Winning the Soil Association’s Innovation Award 2013 has been a massive boost to our business, not only the prize money which gave us a great cash injection but the positive PR and confidence the award gave people in our product. The award also gave the team a great morale boost, as it is hard work developing a product from scratch and having to trial it for 4 years before you can launch.

Innovation is at the heart of the work of the Soil Association. The Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme, delivered by the Soil Association, aims to boost innovation in organic and other low-input farming systems to deliver improved productivity and give environmental benefits.


African specialities from Voodoofood
Tip: www.voodoofood.de  

24 years ago, Dodo Liadé, political scientist, scholar, cook book author and spice blender, came from the West African Ivory Coast to Germany. He was one of 16 brothers and sisters, the son of a cocoa farmer and, even as a child, interested in cooking. Today he is a wholefood manufacturer who entertains and instructs students at various cookery colleges in Munich, Ulm and Regensburg.

Liadé studied the humanities in Paris, Göttingen and Munich. With a doctorate in political science, he lives today as a freelancer in Tutzing on the Starnberger See (Germany). He is constantly creating new blends of spices – he currently has 14 – which he markets with various sauces (for example, peanut, mango, papaya and the chocolate sauce called Mahi’s SchokoLust) under the name Voodoofood.

Founding his own company in 2009 was for him the fulfilment of a dream. In the language of the Fon people in Benin, voodoo means god or spirit. But for Liadé his food is much more: "Magic – definitely positive magic," he confesses. "Food is an essential element for our organism. It provides energy, has the power to revitalise our cells and influences many functions of our body. Food ensures that we stay alive. Eating determines not only the physical but also the mental condition of a human being,” this inspirational cook explains.

This is the reason why he regards producing and processing food with the utmost care as very important. "With enthusiasm and conviction, we develop and produce food that is healthy, that our customers like and that makes them happy," is how the 59-year-old sees his mission. "We started with six spice blends and a ginger paste. Today, the Voodoo food range consists of 30 articles," Liadé explains. All the products are made in Germany and they comply fully with all the organic criteria. With his range, Dodo Liadé would like to “present the culinary world of Africa". An African proverb states: He who wants to walk faster walks alone. If you want to go a long way, you stay in a group. "At Voodoofood, we’ve opted for ‘going a long way’, with and for our customers!"

As well as tomato jam, Voodoofood offers a ginger spread about which is said: "Ginger is not only a spice but also a valuable remedy. It’s a little portable pharmacy as well – it helps in the case of travel sickness and vomiting.” The products of Voodoofood have been listed by Claus/Pural since June 2014 and are readily available by order in Germany and France.


BioFach China: more successful than ever
Source: Nürnberg Messe China July 2014  

The international organic sector met again at the Intex Exhibition Centre in Shanghai from 22–24 May 2014. The eighth edition of BioFach China was the most successful so far: This year 16,755 visitors (2013: 16,235) from all over the world sourced information from 345 exhibitors (2013: 261). This is an impressive 32% more exhibitors than last year. The net space grew from 3,915 (2013) to 4,212 m². With exhibiting companies from Austria, Chile, Taiwan, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

The Symposium of Chinese Organic Certification and Trading celebrated its premiere at this year’s fair and attracted great interest. Here traders who import organic products to China or export Chinese organic products received individual help and tips on establishing and cultivating trading relationships. The presentation of the results of the study World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2014 conducted in China by FiBL and IFOAM was also well attended. The International Organic Food Market and Development Conference offered added value presentations for players from the international organic sector and delighted the many participants.

A varied supporting programme was another essential highlight in addition to the congress and symposium. For example, visitors could taste delicious organic food in the Organic Kitchen and see for themselves the high quality of the products exhibited.

Due to the positive development and the associated increased demand for space, BioFach China will move to a new venue in Shanghai. In 2015 it takes place for the first time at the Shanghai World Expo & Convention Center (SWEECC) – from 28–30 May 2015.


IFOAM OWC: Open call for participants
Source: TASCO  

A great opportunity for the CSOs in EU IPA countries: TACSO (European Union's Tecnical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations) will cover all the costs of 5 OWC participants each from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Interested applicants are requested to complete a form and send it to the e-mail address of the TACSO office in their country (see list below) with the subject heading: People to People: IFOAM Organic World Congress.

CSOs (associations, foundations, cooperatives, unions), based in the IPA countries, can apply that are working on issues related to organic agriculture/animal husbandry, sustainable development/community supported agriculture, rural development, local food production, participatory guarantee systems, food security and related topics.

Active members of networks of associations working with organic agriculture, farmers associations and unions are encouraged to apply. Applicants need to be fluent in English to the extent that they can actively participate in the conference. Additional selection criteria for participants include the connection of the goals and mission of the organisation with the theme of the conference, experience in managing activities in relation to the conference theme and the experience of the proposed CSO representative in relation to the theme of the conference.

The IFOAM Organic World Congress will bring together CSOs, practitioners, business people and academics from around the world in Istanbul on 13-15 October 2014. The varied levels of the conference will include: developing values and principles for concerted action, developing future action points for organic agriculture, sharing of experiences, building of solutions and exploring future collaboration. Some of the topics that will be covered by the congress are: organic visions and trends, food security; social and environmental challenges, organic agriculture for development, institution building, and innovations.


South Korea: Starbucks Launches Organic Beverage
Source: News Release / OM  

Starbucks is marketing an organic birch tree beverage in Korean department stores. The move is thanks to a deal it recently signed with Sealand Natural Resources, an American functional beverages company, and the Korean department store Shinsegae Corporation.

The beverage, Sealand BIRK, is marketed with a Starbucks label in about 400 Korean stores, states Lars Poulsen, CEO of Sealand Natural Resources.

"Our agent in Korea, Mr. Jason Kim, with beverage distribution to over 800 stores throughout Korea, worked alongside our Sealand team during the execution of this exclusive agreement with Starbucks and Shinsegae Corporation, which has produced a fantastic result," he said. "We are very optimistic about the possibility of capitalizing on this relationship with Starbucks Corporation, not only for the vast network of international distribution possibilities but also because they have revolutionized the market with regard to premium beverages and we are proud to be associated with their name."

A growing number of large catering & foodservice (CFS) operators are introducing sustainable products. Starbucks is a frontrunner, buying large volumes of certified fair trade coffee. It also has its own sustainable sourcing programme for coffee. Sustainability initiatives undertaken by CFS operators are regularly featured in the Sustainable Foods Summit.


Séralini study: Science speaks for itself
Source: GMOSeralini  

GMOSeralini.org has welcomed the news of the republication of the chronic toxicity study on the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized genetically modified maize, Monsanto’s NK603, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini. The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists. It can be found at Environmental Sciences Europe.

The study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.

The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication. The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

The Cornucopia Institute comments that scientists associated with the biotechnology industry will again attack the veracity of Séralini's work. Other scientists have already defended his research while other independent researchers take a more nuanced and skeptical view of his paper.


Fairtrade report puts spotlight on benefits on challenges
Source: Fairtrade International  

The fifth edition of the report Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade (2013) puts the spotlight on benefits and challenges for 1.4 million Fairtrade farmers and workers in 70 countries around the world. Producer organizations reported a 42% increase in Fairtrade premium received and a 36% increase in sales on Fairtrade terms over 2011. The report includes more than 120 pages of data, charts, and statistics on Fairtrade farmers and workers

The growth in Fairtrade premium resulted from a doubling of the required premium payment in 2011 as coffee farmers confronted a difficult market. This year’s report also includes a more detailed breakdown of how producers elected to invest these funds. In general, Fairtrade small farmers invested over 80% of their Fairtrade premium funds in supporting their producer organizations to grow stronger and providing services to members. Meanwhile hired labour organizations (plantations and estates) invested more in services for workers and their families. The total number of farmers and workers grew by 15% with roughly 61% of them in Africa and the Middle East. Particularly strong growth was seen in the number of farmers and workers in Asia and Oceania (22% growth), though the region remains the smallest in Fairtrade.


UK: Organic. Naturally Different campaign results
Source: Organic Trade Board  

The results from the evaluation of the recent Organic. Naturally Different campaign for May are now in. Awareness of the campaign is good compared to the other campaigns: 21% of organic shoppers in London (the target market) have seen one of the campaign adverts compared to an industry average of 9%.

The results show that the campaign is sending the right messages to organic consumers about the benefits of organic and encouraging them to buy organic products. 97% of organic shoppers aware of the campaign believe it is likely to encourage people to buy organic food and 95% intend to buy organic in the next fortnight. Those that recalled seeing the campaign are also more likely than non recallers to believe organic is healthier (80% vs 75%), safer to eat (79% vs 70%) and worth it (73% vs 57%). The research also show that as many as 16% of organic shoppers are from the C2DE (skilled working class, working class and non-working) socio economic group and that those organic shoppers are very committed.

The collaboration with the on-line retailer mySupermarket.co.uk showed how the campaign has driven a real increase in organic sales: the campaign drove a huge increase in daily visitor numbers to the organic aisles, from under 20,000 to over 150,000 per day; the share of organic products per trolley went up by 3.7% in value and up 4.8% in volume compared to the previous month; and the campaign increased market share in categories where there was a creative (chocolate, carrot, apple). The Facebook promoted post on "Thrifty Organic" was shown 119,260 times, reaching a total of 104,359 Facebook users and drove 3,099 post engagements. It achieved well above the average levels of engagement and high average click through rates of 3.75% against a Facebook average of 1%.


Going green to access the Brazilian beauty market
Source: Organic Monitor PR  

Brazil is becoming the darling of the beauty industry, capturing the attention of a growing number of international companies, Organic Monitor reports. Already the third largest in the world, the Brazilian cosmetic & personal care products market is predicted to overtake Japan to take number two position by 2020. However, Organic Monitor research finds not all international brands will be successful because of the peculiarities of the Brazilian market. Brazilians strong affinity to beauty products is well-known.

This is partly because of the strong green credentials of Brazilian beauty firms. Natura Brasil, the largest cosmetics company in Latin America, is widely recognised as the most sustainable beauty firm in the world. It was ranked number 2 in a global survey of the 100 top sustainable corporations (Corporate Knights, 2013). Natura Brasil specialises in natural-based cosmetics, with many ingredients ethically sourced from the Amazon. It has undertaken many sustainability initiatives, and is the only large cosmetics company to become carbon-neutral. Group Boticario, the second leading cosmetics company in Brazil, is also very active in CSR and sustainability. It set up the Boticario Group Foundation for Nature Protection in 1990. The foundation protects over 11,000 hectares of Atlantic Rainforest and Cerrado, two of the most endangered biomes in Brazil. The foundation has donated over US$10m in nature reserve programs, enabling the discovery of 69 new species of plants and animals. Many international cosmetic brands are making investments to take a ‘slice of the growing Brazilian pie’. Not all brands will find success when consumers scrutinize their ethical credentials. Weleda, the leading European organic cosmetics brand, has been successful in Brazil because of its strong green ethos.

Apart from the ‘green factor’, cultural nuances and distribution are obstacles to market entry. Many cosmetic brands struggle with building distribution in the vast geographies of Brazil. The strength of its network marketing model has been fundamental to Natura Brasil’s market leadership. Group Boticario also takes the direct route via its chain of concept stores. As will be shown at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, foreign brands need to take a ‘creative approach’ to market entry and Distribution. In the last 9 months, some of the leading green / ethical cosmetic brands have entered the Brazilian market.

The marketing and distribution challenges associated with the Brazilian cosmetics market will be covered in the Latin American edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit. Natura Brasil, Group Boticario, Korres Natural Products, L’Oreal (The Body Shop), Johnson & Johnson are some of the cosmetic companies sharing their experiences at the summit. Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The 3rd Latin American edition will be hosted at Hotel Novotel São Paolo Jaraguá Conventions on 10-12th September.


Amsterdam summit highlighted key challenges
Source: Organic Monitor  

Some of the key challenges faced by the sustainable food industry were discussed in the European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit. Hosted in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, the summit focused on protein alternatives, future of clean labels, and impact of new technologies. The summit brought together about 140 senior executives from the food industry, with representatives from sustainable & organic food firms, large food & beverage companies, ingredient firms, certification agencies and NGOs participating.

In his keynote, Professor Harry Aiking from VU University said food security and prioritising environmental impacts were two crucial issues. According to Aiking, the food industry needs to raise food production by 60% whilst reducing its environmental impacts by a quarter by 2050. Sustainable alternatives to proteins are urgently needed since rising meat production was having a high environmental toll. The prospects for plant proteins, synthetic meats and other meat alternatives were discussed. Consumer behaviour was cited as the major obstacle for insects to become viable protein sources. Professor Dr. Arnold Van Huis from Wageningen University believes insects can play an important role in preventing a proteins crisis.

The clean labels session covered the growing number of free-from labels in the food industry. According to Michelle-Berriedale Johnson, the market has grown out of its niche to mainstream because of the rise in food sensitivity. Alex Smith of Alara Wholefoods cited intensive agriculture as a major cause, with a possible link between hybridised wheat and gluten sensitivity. With free-from food labels already established in retailers, foodservice was highlighted as the next growth area.

Panellists discussed the future direction of clean labels. With eco-labels and free-from labels becoming ubiquitous on food products, concerns were expressed about information overload on product packaging. To avoid this, some food companies were focusing on brands, rather then making free-from claims and brandishing symbols & logos. Innocence was cited as an example of a beverage brand following this route.The impact of new technologies on food production and marketing were also covered. IRB (Croda) is using plant cell technology to harvest natural actives from plant materials. According to the company, sustainable processing of plant materials in biorefineries enables ‘soil to be left for food production’.

Large food companies shared their experiences in meeting their sustainability challenges. Heineken stated water scarcity, food security and climate change were the key sustainability priorities of the global brewery. It has reduced its water footprint by 20% since 2008. Nestle shared its plans for its European plants to have zero-waste by 2020. Dansk Supermarked highlighted one of the major decisions faced by retailers: should it focus on responsible (sustainable) products or discounted core products?

The Sustainable Foods Summit emphasised the growing complexity of sustainability in the food industry. Food companies and retailers are under pressure to address a growing range of environmental and social issues. The food industry is becoming more accountable, however consumers appear to be responding slowly; adoption rates of sustainable foods (and ingredients) remain low.

Organised by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues in a high level forum. The proceedings of the 6th European edition (Amsterdam, 6-7th June) are available for a professional fee.


France: an accelerating organic sector!
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

Whereas in Germany and some other countries the growth of organically managed land is stagnating, France delights in a whopping expansion of 9 %. The number of organic consumers is rising too as the French turn increasingly to food produced by environmentally friendly methods. The semi-state organization Agence Bio, that promotes organic, coordinates publicity and regularly publishes facts and figures about the organic sector and it recently presented a comprehensive report to the public in the context of the two organic action weeks “Printemps bio”

Organically cultivated land in France, including 130,000 ha in conversion, has risen to 1.06 million hectares. The number of farmers increased to 25,500 and manufacturers and retailers to 12,400. By May 2014, there were further increases: 1000 more organic farmers and expansion of the organic land to over 1.1 million ha.

Consumers in France are buying more organic products at the same rate as the increase in the number of farmers and the area of organic land. 9 % growth in 2013 translated into total turnover of €4.56bn. This figure included sales of €172m in the catering sector. In the five years between 2007 and 2012 market volume doubled.

We saw slight shifts in the market shares in the various marketing channels in the four years from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2013. Whereas the conventional retail food trade recorded a downturn from 48 % to 46.4 %, direct marketing expanded from 11 % to 13.2 %. There was also a slight decline in the specialist trade from 36 % to 35.4 %.

The level of self-sufficiency in organic products is on average 75% in France, although domestic production in the case of products like milk, wine, eggs and meat is approaching 100 %.

In the meantime, according to the data of Agence Bio and a survey (Baromètre Agence Bio/CSA), every second consumer buys some organic food products. In 2013, organic consumers were joined by newcomers (28 %) who bought organics at least occasionally (2012: 10 %).

The sales channels fall into four categories: specialist wholefood retailers, the conventional retail food trade, direct marketing and artisan production (bakers, butchers). Sales of the wholefood trade are particularly high in dry goods, fruit, vegetables, bread and bakery goods, whereas the emphasis in the conventional retail trade is on milk, dairy products, eggs, sausage products and dry goods.

From 1-15 June, the two weeks of eco action days took place for the fifteenth time across the whole country. Hundreds of events were held where interested consumers, school children, organic farmers, manufacturers and retailers came together to talk about organics and to get and give information. You can find the complete programme and a lot of other information on the internet under Printemps Bio.


Fairtrade Awards recognize organizations and individuals
Source: Fairtrade International  

This year Fairtrade International opened nominations for the first-ever Fairtrade Awards to recognize the achievements of farmers and workers, traders and companies, campaigners and staff. Over 100 groups and individuals applied or were nominated for the awards. The eight winners (picture), selected by an independent panel, include small producers, workers’ committees, traders, and individuals:

Small Producer Organization – Africa: Kibinge Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society, Ltd. that has set up a savings and credit scheme as well a farm supply shop giving members access farm inputs closer to their communities. Workers’ Premium Committee – Africa: Harvest, Ltd. Workers launched an ambitious 5-year strategic plan focused on gender and environmental protection just one year after becoming Fairtrade certified. Small Producer Organization - Asia: Marginalised Organic Producers Association (MOPA) in Sri Lanka.

Workers’ Premium Committee Asia: Stassen Bio Tea Project in Sri Lanka. The workers in the project have elected to invest in essential transport services that are key to improving the lives of people in the communities. Small Producer Organization – Latin America & the Caribbean: Cooperativa Caficultores de Antioquia in Colombia. The coffee farmers in this cooperative have created a detailed plan for how they will invest their Fairtrade Premium in social projects, and increase workers’ welfare, and productivity. Workers’ Premium Committee – Latin America & the Caribbean: Coporacion Rosalba Zapata Cardona in Colombia. The project has not only created dignified living spaces for 397 workers and their families, but also gainful employment for many more in the surrounding area. Fairest Trader: All Good Organics, trading as Karma Cola in New Zealand.

Fairest Fairtrader: Dr. Ananda Sarath Ranaweera of Sri Lanka. In 1993 he set up Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd, a company that processes and exports organic teas, spices, rice and other products. Upon seeing the difficulties that producers in Sri Lanka were facing, he formed the Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA) in 1997. Bio Foods supports the small farmers of SOFA with training in organic farming practices and guarantees purchase of their products. The certification of Bio Foods as a Fairtrade exporter in 1997 and SOFA as a Fairtrade small producer organization in 1998 revolutionized the local agricultural system and social development of farmers, their families and the community.


Biodynamic Agriculture: A matter of life
Source: Biodynamic Association  

The conference Biodynamic Agriculture: A matter of Life will take place in Stourbridge, West Midlands, England, from 30 October to 2 November 2014. It will explore the contribution that biodynamics can make to enhancing food quality, soil, plant and animal health and social and economic renewal.

Keynote speakers will be Patrick Holden, Patron of the Biodynamic Association and director of the Sustainable Food Trust with “Soil, Food and Health”; Gunther Hauk, beekeeper at Spikenhard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in the USA and also starring in the award-winnig film Queen of the Sun; and Vincent Masson, managing director of Biodynamic Services that makes and supplies preparations for over 3000 farms, vineyards and gardens in France and Europe.

Shorter talks will be held too as well as workshops and farm visits. There will be a special presentation at the end of the conference to Tyll van de Voort for his contribution to the biodynamic work, followed by an address from Tyll.


France: continuous growth in the specialist trade
Author: Kai Kreuzer
Source: Bio-Linéaires  

For years the organic industry in France has been growing. According to the magazine Bio-Linéaires, the specialist trade is estimated to have achieved turnover of €1.55bn in 2013 (Agence Bio). In 2013, the total market for organic products was valued at €4.5bn compared with €4.17bn in 2012. Although the number of specialist stores has been falling slightly for the last three years, the average retail area has been increasing. Despite the fact that the French economy has been in a state of crisis for some years now, the mood in the organic sector is upbeat, and it is assumed that growth will continue. Evidence for this optimism is the expansion of retail area and more and more organic supermarkets.

Compared with total retail area in the specialist trade of 300,000 m² in 2009, in 2013 it came to 430,000 m² and has been growing continuously. The same applies to the average per store, expanding from 116 m² in 2005 to 153 m² in 2009 and 190 m² in 2013. There is, however, a discrepancy in size between independent stores, with an average of 116 m², and those operated by the organic chains, with 264 m². The information provided by Bio-Linéaires shows there was a total of 2,284 stores in 2013.

2013 saw an increase of 24,150 m² in specialist retail area in 91 stores, but at the same time 152 mainly small stores with less than 150 m² were forced to close. This equates with a loss of 23, 060 m², and the overall gain was therefore only 1,090 m².

Wholefood chains are in the ascendancy in France, just as they are in Germany: Naturalia, Satoriz, La Vie Claire, La Vie Saine, Eau Vive and Les Nouveaux Robinson/Biogéneration and BioCBon. The organic supermarket chain Naturalia, that was founded in 1973 and taken over by the department store operator Monoprix in mid 2008, has been opening stores almost month by month. Naturalia now has 80 food outlets. Whereas all its organic supermarkets have been located in city centres and the greater Paris region, Naturalia now has stores in Alsace, Lyons and Provence.

Biocoop, an association that has existed for 25 years in France, operates 345 wholefood stores and organic supermarkets. With growth of 8% in 2013, its results are most definitely positive. Turnover rose to over half a billion euros (€580m). The company expanded in 2013 with 25 new or enlarged stores. The average turnover per store was €1.7m. 23 % of goods were fair trade. Biocoop puts high value on good relations with its producers in France and the rest of the world. Its plan for 2014 is 22 new stores. Supplying gastronomy is an arm of the business that has also been expanded, and it regularly delivers organics to 27 partners. An assortment of 715 articles is available specifically for the catering segment.

Biocoop’s four regional wholesale warehouses (over 40,000 m²) are supplied by 1,200 organic producers. In these warehouses, the company stocks nearly 6,500 articles, of which 1,500 are non-food. Around 2,650 people are employed in the retail stores and 790 in the wholesale business and the central administration. An extension to the wholesale facility in the west, costing about €5m, is planned for completion by 2016.

For the second biggest network in France, Biomonde, 2012 saw no increase in members – in fact, its 177 stores were down from 180 the year before. The rapid growth experienced in recent years through stores joining the network is now a thing of the past. Total turnover in Biomonde stores in 2012 – approximately €130m – was roughly the same as the year before. The average retail area of these stores, that are independent but source their goods jointly, was 222 m².

Little information is available about the organic chain BioCBon, that has developed rapidly in the Paris region and the region round Marseilles over the last three years. The operators are not prepared to release any information to the press. According to their homepage, they have 48 specialist outlets with an average of 200 - 300 m² of retail area. In their stores, they concentrate on fresh regional products and are pursuing, therefore, a similar concept to the likes of Bio Company in Berlin, that has experienced growth on a similar scale. BioCBon opened its first store in 2008, and by May 2011 it already had 10 stores. In June 2013, it was 30 and now, just a year later, they have opened another 18! One of these stores is in the Bordeaux region (300 m²), another in Lille (250 m²). Both were opened in the first quarter of 2014. In the meantime, more have been added to their tally in La Rochelle, Aix-en-Provence and Milan/Italy.


Australia: program to develop organic sector
Source: Australian Organic PR  

The horticulture industry is struggling to keep up with a dramatic increase in demand domestically and internationally for organic fruit and vegetables, Australian Organic reports. To address the shortfall, Australian Organic has developed a three year, AUD1.2m program (about €800,000). Horticulture Australia Limited is contributing 40% of the funds. A major component of the program is a horticulture industry development officer who will educate and support growers with Australian Certified Organic certification.

According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2012, fruit and vegetables are the most commonly bought organic item and researchers IBISWorld predict organic farming will double in five years; it’s already the third fastest growing industry in Australia. Australian Organic’s Commercial General Manager Joanne Barber says the certified organic horticulture sector needs help to grow and to be financially sustainable. A lot of large conventional businesses growing certified organic vegetables, and small to medium size farms are struggling to keep up with demand for consistent supply of products, particularly to the major retailers.

The funding will give the industry a considerable boost because up until now there isn’t much development support for organic growers – many have to search online for agronomy solutions and they can feel quite alone, according to Australian Organic. The funding will help certified organic farmers in Australia establish sound business plans and it will encourage new growers to the industry. Australian Certified Organic is also implementing an onboarding program to help all farmers and graziers certified by them to achieve organic certification and to have long term profitable businesses.

Australian Organic was also presenting at the national AUSVEG conference in Cairns and was meeting with a delegation of international buyers who were looking for more certified organic vegetables. “This was the first time the organic industry has been encouraged to attend such a significant event in the horticulture calendar and just goes to show how important it is to the horticulture market in Australia and overseas


USA: Parents willing to pay the premium for organic food
Source: OTA PR  

A new study shows that an increasing number of American parents are willing to dig deeper into their wallets to buy products that carry the organic seal. The Organic Trade Association’s U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2014 Tracking Study, a survey of more than 1,200 households with at least one child under 18, found that price has become much less of a barrier to purchasing organic products. More than 50 % of those parents surveyed said the cost of organic products was one of the key factors in limiting their organic purchases, a drop from the previous year in which 62 % said organic items were sometimes too expensive for their household budget.

According to the study, families who include organic products on their grocery list on a regular basis spend an average of US$125 (about €92) a week at the grocery store, compared to US$110 (about €81) a week for those not buying any organic items. However, despite the higher tab, almost half of the parents polled (47 %) said that half or more of their weekly grocery purchases are organic, while close to 10 % said they buy only organic.

No longer just found in niche specialty stores, supermarkets are now the go-to source for 70 % of households buying organic. Lack of availability of organic products was cited by just 12 % as a reason for not buying organic, down from last year’s 21 % who claimed that was a barrier. Only 3% of the surveyed said that organic products were not available where they shopped. The Organic Trade Association partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct the study in late February and early March. The survey takes an in-depth look at the buying patterns of American households, who buys organic products, what products are being purchased, and the reasons behind those decisions.


Brazil: organic as profiling tool
Author: Karin Heinze  

Health and fitness are important issues for the urban middle and upper classes in Brazil. Some of the reasons why in Brazil people buy organics are diabetes, gluten and lactose intolerance in particular, parents worrying about the welfare of their children, wanting to avoid pesticides and genetic technology, environmental protection, the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle or simply products that taste good. The offer is becoming more and more varied, and you find organic products in all marketing channels: organic shops and classic supermarkets, gastronomy and school catering, at weekly markets and in box schemes. Examples from Sao Paulo and Curitiba illustrate the diversity of marketing methods.

Even during the World Cup, the food in the kits issued to the voluntary helpers includes organic products (picture Ecocitrus), and organics are the official food on sale in special kiosks. The government made available a budget of US $ 400,000 to facilitate the sale of fruit juices, nuts, snacks and sustainable products from small-farm production at the venues for the games. The Organic and Sustainable Brazil campaign, launched by the Ministry for Social Development, shows that the government takes seriously the task of supporting the organic sector and small farmers. Further evidence of state commitment is the national organic week “Semana nacional dos Organicos”, that took place from the end of May to the beginning of June 2014. From as early as 2005, organizations and any of the actors in the organic industry have had the opportunity to participate with their campaigns in the organic week.

State assistance is significant, but without the interest of the private sector the organic industry would not be where it is today. Various companies are particularly keen to promote the organic product range, and they advertised it vigorously during the Organic Week. The store Emporio Santa Maria, that belongs to the Marché Group (14 shops in Sao Paulo), distributed a brochure dealing specifically with organics and containing information and recipes. Special placements in the supermarket and special offers in the two restaurants were also a way of promoting organics.

Gabriela Mordhorst, responsible for marketing for the last two years, explains that the managing director, José Barattino, is the organic ambassador in the firm and is keen to extend the product range. Mordhorst points out that, as well as imported products from Europe and many service counters with fine foods, cheese, meat, fresh pasta and sauces plus confectionery and cake from their own kitchen, organic products fit well into their store concept. She says that customers from the upper middle and upper classes are concerned about nutrition and demand quality.

The supermarket Casa Santa Luzia (picture), an almost 90-year-old family-run business in Sao Paulo, similarly offers goods of a high standard, many counters with sales assistants and a lot of service. The extensive organic fruit and vegetable range is presented en bloc next to the conventional products. On the top floor of the supermarket you find a whole department (approximately 200 m2) allocated to organic food, health food and health products. Some of the offer is also available in their online shop. Their homepage too provides information round the organic theme. Innovative organic marketing concepts are also found in the conventional trade in other federal states in Brazil, an example being the local supermarket Hippo in Florianopolis

In Brazil, the conventional retail trade accounts for two-thirds of organic turnover totalling ca.US $900m. With around 850 products in the organic range, turnover of more than US $75m and a growth rate of 40 % last year, Pão de Açúcar is Brazil’s number one in organic marketing. For 20 years, Brazil’s biggest food retailer has promoted the marketing of organics. The company, that with roughly 1,500 stores recently became a part of the French Casino Group, is strong especially in the federal states Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The company stocks many brand products of traditional organic manufacturers and around 260 organic products under its own Taeq label.

It states that it works closely with local producers. Sandra Caires, responsible for the organic range at Pão de Açúcar over the last twelve years, is a convinced promoter of organics. A vegetarian and organic consumer herself, she pushes organic products in the company and is confident that above-average growth will continue. She is inspired by concepts in the USA (Wholefoods) and in Germany (Alnatura, Basic), and she is a regular visitor to BioFach. Other big supermarket chains like Carrefour Brazil (ca. 640 stores) and Walmart Brazil (ca. 480 stores) have organics in their product ranges.

It’s not only in Sao Paulo that organics are popular and the offer large-scale. Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná, is an organic bastion: at 16 weekly markets in the city (picture on right), consumers can find organic products supplied by producers in the surrounding area. The capital, with 1.8 million inhabitants, is the only city in the whole of Brazil to have an organic department in a municipal market hall (picture on left). Here you find wholefood businesses like Biossana and Natural Market selling a wide range of dry goods, the natural cosmetics shop of the manufacturer and retailer Cativa Natureza – also the name of its brand - (12 shops), several suppliers of fruit and vegetables and a shop selling natural textiles.

In addition, they also produce bread, bakery goods and pasta, that are sold under the brand name Amabile. At the same time, the farm supplies two family-owned restaurants in Curitiba, school canteens and a box scheme with around 100 customers. The restaurant AmoreBio, that can seat about 100 people, is run by Rogerio Vanderley Konzen and his wife. At the end of the first six months, they are happy with the positive way the business has developed.

The Marfil family’s organic business has specialized in processing and trading organic goods: the oldest daughter is Amadea who, together with her team, bakes a wide selection of bread and cakes that she sells at markets and in a market café in Curitiba. Under the Marfil brand, they also sell a dry goods range in kilo packs both to end consumers via markets and to shops.

The actors in the organic industry were all in agreement that organic marketing in Brazil is positive: Christoph Allain, the owner of one of the leading manufacturing firms for wholemeal and organic products, Jasmine, has been following developments in the various marketing channels for more than 20 years, and he is convinced that the dynamism of the market will continue. He points out, however, that competition is increasing.

Valter Watanabe (left on picture) from Korin (organic eggs, poultry) has a similar view. The Brazilian market still has a lot of potential for growth, and it’s a question of constantly improving and expanding the offer. The company was founded 20 years ago and, with five stores in various cities in Brazil, is experienced in the retail trade. However, the majority of products go to the classic food trade, the wholefood trade and gastronomy.

Luiz Mazzon, too, the head of Ecocert Brasil (the second biggest certification organisation in the country), sees many opportunities for developing the market. He estimates that the state organic logo can now be found on 95 % of traded products, and he says that customers are becoming increasingly aware of it. He adds that the prescribed proportion of organic ingredients in school catering and the activities of Pão de Açúcar in particular are drivers of the market. What he regards as obstacles to development are the less than optimally organized distribution, the poor seasonal availability of important products and the high prices. He also finds that some of the regulations in the organic legislation should be supplemented.


Summit casts sustainability spotlight on Brazil
Source: Organic Monitor  

As the international spotlight is on Brazil for the world cup, questions are emerging about how sustainable is Brazil and its beauty industry. The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Latin America will address such questions; the summit will be hosted in the Brazilian capital São Paulo on 10-12 September 2014.

Brazil has announced the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics will be the most sustainable on record. The events will use solar powered stadiums, serve organic foods, undertake waste recycling and offset carbon emissions. These green initiatives are part of a broad strategy to encourage sustainability in Brazil. Although the government is investing in green initiatives, Organic Monitor research finds Brazil and the wider Latin American region is lagging in sustainability.

Latin America is now established as a major producer of natural ingredients and ecological products. The region has almost 20% share of global organic farmland, and is the biggest producer of sustainable commodities, such as coffee, cocoa, sugar and soya beans. In the cosmetics industry, the biomes of Brazil are a hotbed of natural ingredients. Rainforest specialties, such as açaí, pracaxi, andiroba, copaiba, and annatto, have made their way in cosmetic and personal care applications across the globe. Although Brazil and Latin America have become major exporters, they remain small consumer of green products. Less than 2% of global natural & organic cosmetics sales are from the region. Latin American brands are using indigenous natural ingredients however most cosmetic formulations remain conventional, with the presence of synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers, surfactants and emollients. Furthermore, few cosmetic companies have adopted coherent sustainability strategies to address their ecological impacts.

Opening the summit is a keynote by George Korres, Founder and CEO of Korres Natural Products, on the healing value of green ingredients. Originating from the oldest homeopathic pharmacy in Greece, the natural cosmetics brand has built an international presence. Korres will give insights into how brands can successfully formulate natural cosmetics using medicinal herbs and plant extracts. Dalberto Adulis from Instituto Akatu will discuss approaches to encourage sustainable consumption of cosmetic and personal care products. Brazil has the third largest cosmetics market in the world, however environmental impacts remains high because of consumer behavior. Advice will be given into to cosmetic brands and retailers on how they can promote conscious consumption.

For the first time, a dedicated session will feature sustainability metrics. Industry experts will show how metrics can help cosmetic brands and ingredient firms on the green journey. An update will be given on the use of Life-Cycle Analyses to measure and reduce environmental footprints. L’Oreal will state how metrics were used to set targets in its ‘Sharing Beauty for All’ sustainability strategy. The cosmetics multinational plans to reach 1 billion more consumers whilst reducing its environmental footprint by 60% by 2020.

With many Latin American brands grappling with green formulations, the summit devotes a session and workshop to green ingredients. Judi Beerling, Head of Technical Research at Organic Monitor, will give an interactive workshop to guide brands on how to replace synthetic emulsifiers, surfactants and emollients in product formulations. Details will be given on green alternatives to SLS / SLES and related petrochemical-based materials. Marie Harris from Instituto Harris will highlight the safety issues associated with natural ingredients.

Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The 3rd Latin American edition will be hosted at Hotel Novotel São Paolo Jaraguá Conventions on 10-12 September. The summit will be hosted alongside in-Cosmetics Brasil (9-10 September).


Brazil: dynamic growth of the domestic market and exports
Author: Karin Heinze  

The fact that the Brazilian organic market is developing well was very apparent at the second edition of the double trade fair Bio Brazil Fair/BioFach America Latina and at Natural Tech in São Paulo. The progress being made was also clearly to be seen when visiting various businesses. The pioneer firms in the organic sector have expanded their offer significantly, young firms are coming up with fresh ideas and cooperatives are bringing the great diversity of the country to the market. The availability of organic food and natural cosmetics has increased hugely and, because of interesting marketing models, more and more organic and natural products land in the shopping baskets of consumers. The prognosis: organic turnover in 2014 will rise by 35 % to the equivalent of US$900m (2 billion BRL).

For a number of years, the organic market in Brazil has enjoyed high double-digit growth rates - from 15 % to over 20 %. According to data provided by the Brazilian Development Promotion Institute IPD and Organics Brazil, turnover in 2012 was around US$760m. After a very high uplift of 22 % last year, this year market experts are anticipating record growth of 35 %, which will increase sales to over US$900m (2bn BRL).

Up till now, 50 % - 60 % of its certified organic goods – predominantly basic products like sugar, coffee, soya, rice and fruit juices, mainly in bulk – have been exported. Now Brazilian manufacturers are putting on the market more finished products that are also in demand in other countries. In their effort to exploit export markets all over the world, they are supported by IPD/Organics Brazil and Apex-Brasil.

Organics Brazil and the IPD initiative work closely with Apex Brasil the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, resulting in recent years in the emergence of a strong network in the organic sector. The success story of IPD/Organics Brazil and Apex-Brasil began in 2005 with 12 firms and turnover of US$9.5m. In 2012, 74 firms in the project achieved what at that time was their peak export sales of US$129.5m. In the meantime, they are exporting more and more processed goods alongside food products, natural cosmetics and natural textiles.

With his team, the project manager and coordinator of Organics Brazil and IPD, Ming Liu, aims to raise the number of firms to 100 and to increase turnover to US$150m by 2016. “The organic companies are developing more and more interesting and high-value products that are in demand in the flourishing markets in the USA and Europe. We help to find the appropriate sales channels,” Liu explains. The success of IPD/Organics Brazil is down to more than ten years of experience, sound knowledge of the market, innumerable contacts and a committed team.

Exporting is still the most important arm of the organic industry in Brazil, but demand in the country itself is growing dynamically. We see the evidence in the figures of the big chains. The conventional retail trade accounts for two-thirds of sales. Pão de Açúcar (Casino Group), with nearly 1,500 stores and turnover of ca. US$19bn (2012), is number one in the retail food trade in Brazil and, with its extensive organic range of about 850 products (own brand Taeq and branded goods), is the leader in organic marketing. The growth rate of organic turnover in recent years has been an annual 30 % - 40 %, and the value of current sales is in excess of US$75m, according to Sandra Caires (Picture on right), who is responsible for this aspect of the business. At the Bio Brazil Fair/BioFach America Latina, the company presented itself in the form of a store.

The 90 organic exhibitors declared themselves satisfied with the fair. During the four days, more than 15,000 visitors came into the exhibition hall in Ibirapuera Park, and on the last day Bio Brazil Fair/BioFach America Latina and also Natural Tech with 130 exhibitors (dietetic, vegetarian food, food supplements and natural products) were open to end consumers. The trade fair was a home game: there were hardly any international exhibitors or visitors from abroad. However, the Brazilian market is big and demand is rising – so there’s enough to do on the domestic market. The exhibitors took the opportunity to present their innovations.

La Finestra sul Cielo Brasil, a subsidiary of the Italian-Spanish wholesaler, presented pasta and rice and quinoa drinks. Emporium Vida now offers frozen products alongside its wide range of fresh bread and bakery goods. Fazenda Solarius has extended its selection of Mediterranean pestos, antipasti and conserves, and on the Organic Brazil stand Miolo Real introduced four kinds of palm hearts in jars. The firm Blessing offers a big range of exotic fruit spreads, tomato products and dried blueberries cultivated in Brazil.

Natural and organic cosmetics were well represented at the fair: the two Brazilian firms Surya and Ikove were there with their big stands. There was a lot of activity on the stand of the Brazilian branch of the German natural cosmetics firm Alva: the very committed young ‘Diretora’ Ananda Boschilia e Santos was involved in a lot of discussions, and three tables were given over to applying make-up products. According to Ananda, this German brand is in great demand in Brazil. Similarly, Sebastian Schlossarek and his business partner have established the Herbia brand in Brazil.

Small family firms and small-farmer cooperatives have a special status in Brazil. They receive state support: a number of cooperatives exhibited on a joint stand of the Ministry for Rural Development, and 18 family businesses were located in the pavilion of SEBRAE. SEBRAE is a non-profit organization that, in all of Brazil’s federal states, offers training and advanced training courses specifically for small businesses. It also issues loans and organizes and finances the attendance of firms at trade fairs. Some of these small businesses are already successfully engaged in exporting – for example, Ecocitrus sends citrus oils to France and orange and mandarin juice to Voelkel in Germany.

The International Forum of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture brought together some of the main leaders of the sector in Brazil – representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Social Development, Agricultural and Environment Departments of the State of São Paulo, Sebrae, Itaipu Binacional, IBD – and from all over the world: the speakers included IFOAM President André Leu and Denise Godinho (IFOAM), Matthew Holmes from the Canadian organic trade organization COTA, Julie Tyrell from the international natural and organic cosmetic association Natrue, Toshifumi Ayukawa, the representative of NürnbergMesse in Japan and Cauê Suplicy from Brazil, who talked about the success of his company, Wholesome Valley Foods, in the United States.


New York Summit Calls for Greater Green Steps
Source: Organic Monitor  

The cosmetics industry needs to take greater steps if it is to become more sustainable. This was one of the key messages from Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North America, hosted in New York last month. Over 160 senior executives convened in Manhattan over three days to discuss key sustainability issues. Some industry experts called for the cosmetics industry to address its environmental impact by working with nature. In his opening keynote, Dominique Conseil, President of Aveda, said the cosmetics industry needs ‘to have a different relationship with the Earth’ if it is to face up to its harsh realities. A similar message was given by Chris Kilham, Medicine Hunter and Sustainability Ambassador of Naturex: “We are entering a new era of conscious business where traditional models no longer exist”. Kilham proposes a Business To Heart (B2H) approach whereby cosmetic brands appeal to people’s hearts; he encouraged brands to take a more personalised approach and consider their customers as people rather than consumers.

Lack of transparency in supply chains was cited as a major impediment to sustainable development. Ingredient traceability has become a major concern for the cosmetics industry, with some participants giving examples of palm oil and sandalwood. Aveda stated “managing supply chains are the 800 pound guerrilla” for the company, as it was sourcing raw materials from across the globe. Kenneth Ross, CEO of Global ID, highlighted the rising incidents of fraud and mislabeling of cosmetic ingredients. According to Ross, the GM debate in the food industry was also having a knock-on effect on cosmetic ingredients with a growing number of brands asking for certified Non-GMO ingredients.

The summit highlighted the varying interpretations of sustainability in the cosmetics industry. Although some correlate green cosmetics and ethical sourcing with sustainability, other had differing views. Mike Martinez, CEO of Natural Plant Products, stated “sustainability means good agricultural practices by its farmers”. Naturex said sustainability means using less synthetics in cosmetic formulations and thus lower environmental pollution. Another ingredient firm - Kemin - believed cultivation of certified sustainable crops was the way forward. The role of metrics to reduce environmental impacts was also discussed. SGS showed how metrics can be used by cosmetic firms to reduce their packaging footprints. Croda stated it was addressing its environmental impact by using renewable energy, reducing water usage and sending less waste to landfill.

The 3-day summit highlighted many sustainability shortcomings in the cosmetics industry. Some of the areas warranting further attention are social impacts of cosmetic products, encouraging sustainable consumption and purchasing, managing supply chains and greater traceability of raw materials. Such topics will be covered in upcoming editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit: Latin America (10-12 September, São Paolo), Asia-Pacific (10-11 November, Hong Kong) and Europe (24-26 November, Paris). Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The 5th North American edition was hosted at Westin New York at Times Square on 15-17 May 2014.


The Netherlands: BioFach 2015 country of the year
Author: Kai Kreuzer
Source: Biofach/NürnbergMesse  

Every year at the beginning of May the heart of the Netherlands is engulfed by a rush of colour, with many square miles north of Amsterdam blooming with tulips, narcissi and hyacinths that captivate visitors from every corner of the planet with their beauty. Among the bulb and cut flower growers there are organic producers, who sell their products all over the world. The Netherlands is an export-oriented country – and this doesn’t just apply to flowers, but also to other industries such as the food sector. The country’s organic industry has developed into a professional partner for both national and international companies in wholesale or retail. Reason enough to be presented as the BioFach country of the year from from 11–14 February 2015. The world’s leading trade fair for organic food has seen 2,263 exhibitors and 42,445 visitors celebrating in fitting fashion when the fair took place for the 25th time in 2014.

According to provisional estimates by Bionext, an umbrella organisation in Zeist (NL) for the Dutch organic industry, the turnover generated from organic food in the Netherlands increased to €1.07bn in 2013. Bavo van den Idsert, Bionext’s director, believes the growth probably equates to 6-8 % in the organic sector as a whole and 9 % just in natural food specialist stores. In the Netherlands itself, natural food specialist stores are the second most important after food retailers when it comes to the sale of organic products.

The most important suppliers for natural food retailers are the wholesalers Udea, Natudis and Odin, and all three of these have their own natural food specialist stores or a franchise system as well. Udea is experiencing the greatest momentum in the market at the moment. The wholesaler saw an increase of nearly 22 % last year, a jump from 74 million to 90 million EUR. Besides EkoPlaza, Udea delivered to 500 other natural food shops, chemists, local country suppliers and restaurants in 2013, but did not deliver to any conventional supermarket chains. Udea is owned by Erik Does and Erik-Jan van den Brink. The two have worked together since 1995 and merged their wholesale warehouses in 1999 in Veghel, a town of 40,000 residents. The 67 EkoPlaza stores generate a total turnover of 100 million EUR and about half of these belong to Udea, whose headquarters are in Veghel, which is situated in the south of Holland between s’Hertogenbosch and Eindhoven.

Natuurwinkel has its own franchise system. Odin is creating a chain of its own too called Estafette. 115 of the 365 natural food specialist stores and health shops in the Netherlands are currently provided by Udea, Natudis or Odin, making the proportion just under one third. Natudis, which now belongs to Dutch group Wessanen, supplies approximately 9,000 items to 500 natural food specialist stores in the Netherlands and Belgium. 30 Natuurwinkel stores are tied to the Harderwijk-based wholesaler by its franchise system. There were about 60 of these stores a few years ago, but most of the other 30 have now switched to EkoPlaza. Odin, which is a natural food wholesaler headquartered in Geldermalsen, prioritises Demeter goods. As the third of the three wholesalers mentioned, Odin has started to build up its own trade channel to increase sales and there are currently 18 stores under the name Estafette.

One of the key areas of Dutch organic production is cheese making. Of a turnover of 1.7 billion EUR generated by the cheese production industry as a whole, 26 million EUR comes from organic production. One of the most well-known exporters is Bastiaansen, a cheese dairy west of s’Hertogenbosch. It supplies to German specialist stores via natural food wholesalers, but organic dairy products are currently enjoying a surge in popularity in the Netherlands as well.

In 2012 the turnover from items in this category rose by 11 % to a total of €218m, which equates to almost 5 % of the organic market. This is very good compared to meat and sausages, whose market share is just 2.7 %. The market share occupied by organic products in the Dutch food sector is growing, but at 3.2 % it was still a little behind Germany (3.9 %) in 2013 and leader Switzerland, where the figure was 6.9 %. Holland has a long tradition of trade, and this includes the organic sector.

Back to the tulips! The tulip bulbs played an important role in the past in the Netherlands, and in the second half of the 16th century they fetched extraordinarily high prices. It was the period of the ‘tulip mania’ that made many breeders and merchants very rich in a short space of time. Since those days, although the prices have fallen significantly and tulips are affordable now for everyone, this fascinating flower has lost none of its popularity. Over the last decade, a group of organic breeders has become established in the flower bulb business. They include Peter Timmerman and other organic breeders who formed the Dutch Growers Association Biobol, with Jan Timmerman on the management board. The sought-after bulbs are both marketed directly abroad and sold via partners in the international wholefood trade.

From very early on, companies near the sea began to take advantage of of the convenient maritime transport connections to countries all around the globe. The ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are key hubs for importers and exporters, and well-known producers such as Eosta, Tradin and Do-it very ably supply not only the domestic market with organic goods and commodities, but also the rest of Europe.

The Dutch organic market has a lot of potential in general, and Mr van den Idsert is therefore optimistic about the future. He said: “More and more consumers are shopping at natural food stores and organic supermarkets, because that’s where the widest range of organic products and health-oriented items is. Domestically grown products are also becoming increasingly popular.” Bionext expressly welcomes the activities concerning quality assurance and risk-based checks that are carried out by the two manufacturers’ associations VBP (Netherlands) and Aoel (Germany). Mr van den Idsert said, “There are also a large number of projects that are optimising quality through measures such as the introduction of fair trade for animal feed, improved local supplying with protein animal feed, and the further development of biodiversity and nature conservation standards.” He went on to say that other topics currently being focused on include the acceleration of organic seed development, residue monitoring and the continuous further development of quality assurance systems for organic food.


Primavera: passion for healing fragrances
Author: Karin Heinze  

From the outset, Primavera has been committed to fragrances and their beneficial effect. Over the course of 28 years the company has developed a high level of expertise in aromatherapy. Its wealth of experience and knowledge will become more visible in the future and there will again be more emphasis on the therapeutic concept. Another focus of the company is working in partnership with agricultural projects worldwide. It is currently concentrating on its project in Bhutan called “Share Happiness”. Kurt Ludwig Nübling, the managing director of the fragrance specialist domiciled in the Allgäu region of Germany, visited the project to find out about the progress the Himalayan state is making on its way to 100 % organic farming.

It was a moving experience to see the result of my initiative,” Kurt L. Nübling explains. The expert in fragrance plants manages the Primavera business and has connections with the firm reaching back to when it was founded 28 years ago. More than 20 years ago, he initiated organic lemongrass growing in the Himalayan kingdom. This led to the longstanding partnership with the firm BioBhutan. The lemongrass essential oil is extracted locally and processed and bottled in the Allgäu. There is also a small soap making plant in the east of Bhutan producing natural soaps that are packaged with the use of local raw materials. It guarantees an income and security for 60 families.

“The philosophy of happiness and giving chimes perfectly with the leitmotifs we pursue,” explains Ute Leube, the founder of the firm. Primavera was inspired by the idea of the gross national happiness of the kingdom to set up the campaign “Share Happiness”, and it supports their efforts to preserve the unique biodiversity of the country with the help of organic agriculture. What pleases Nübling most is the fact that he provided an important incentive: “When I talked to the current minister for agriculture, he confirmed that I sowed the idea in the mind of his predecessor that led to the decision in favour of organic agriculture.

In this way, Primavera has supported the seed initiative with 20,000 euros and the Bhutan Youth Development Fund with 10,000 euros. To express their personal feelings of happiness and to share them with the whole world, customers can post their happiness messages on a dedicated website

Sales of organic food in Denmark have been growing for the past ten years, Organic Denmark reports. Organics worth DKK 5.8bn (about €777m) were sold in Danish supermarkets in 2013, an increase of 6% on 2012, according to new figures from Statistics Denmark. Sales of organic eggs increased in a high rate (+24%), due to a growing interest in animal welfare, according to Henrik Hindborg, Marketing Manager at Organic Denmark.

Primavera maintains close relations, often based on friendship, with the projects all over the world. The company buys around 200 plant raw materials from 19 partner projects and other sources in Europe and overseas for the manufacture of its wide product range of 145 essential oils and 75 Natrue-certified face and body care products. “When I see that essential oils and aromatherapy are firmly established today in the care of the elderly and the sick, I’m immensely grateful and pleased,” says Ute Leube (picture). She sees great potential in these spheres of care but also in therapeutic application at home and thinks it’s something that Primavera should pursue in future. “The healing effect of essential oils has by no means been fully exploited.

The declared aim of highlighting competence and knowledge in respect of essential oils and aromatherapy goes much further than the oils themselves. “In natural cosmetics too, we want people to benefit more from our experience of the power of plants and fragrances,” says Leube. The new claim “A declaration of love for people and nature” is intended to underline that aspiration. For over ten years, the success of the natural cosmetics product range has been the personal ambition of the founder of the firm.

“Primavera was always a joint venture,” Leube maintains. “We inspired each other, have grown with the challenges and have learned from our mistakes. I can’t conceive of meaningful products without this collaborative approach to working with partners and fairness.” Primavera has at the moment over 180 employees.

After withdrawing last autumn from the day-to-day running of the business, Leube has been experiencing her personal back-to-the-roots. In a one-year course on herbs, she is really getting in-depth knowledge of the indigenous world of plants and is discovering their secrets and manifold properties. What inspired her more than 30 years ago and incentivized her to found Primavera, is again inspiring her today.

Kurt L. Nübling planned and supervised the construction of the company headquarters in Oy-Mittelberg. The building is the visual expression of what constitutes Primavera: connection and affinity with nature. For example, in the eye-catching building there is10 t of rock crystal in a plexiglass column that reaches upwards from the cellar through the stairwell and two storeys to form the heart chakra of the building. On the approximately 4 ha site, it was often Nübling himself who planted over 30,000 aromatic plants. A major commitment of Primavera is passing on knowledge: ca. 5,000 specialists in the healing professions and the organic and cosmetics industries take part every year in aromatherapy seminars and other events. They have recently introduced seminars for end users and they are quickly fully booked.


Denmark: Sales of organics still on the rise
Source: Organic Denmark  

Sales of organic food in Denmark have been growing for the past ten years, Organic Denmark reports. Organics worth DKK 5.8bn (about €777m) were sold in Danish supermarkets in 2013, an increase of 6% on 2012, according to new figures from Statistics Denmark. Sales of organic eggs increased in a high rate (+24%), due to a growing interest in animal welfare, according to Henrik Hindborg, Marketing Manager at Organic Denmark.

Danks Supermarked expects further growth for 2014. Sales of organics have been increasing every year, and especially fruit, vegetables and dairy products were frequently found in the shopping carts of Føtex, Netto and Bilka, according to Henrik Kjeldsen, Purchasing Manager for fresh product at Danks Supermarked. Coop is also optimistic: organic sales reached a significantly higher level at the end of the year than at the beginning, and further growth is also expected for 2014, according to Thomas Roland, Accountability Manager at Coop.

Sales of milk increased by 4% in 2013, and the organic dairies Arla, Thise and Naturmælk also expect further growth for 2014. Naturmælk registered a sales growth of nearly 10% in the first quarter of 2014 on the first quarter of 2013. About 30% of the milk sold in Denmark is organic.

While sales are growing in retail, organics are also increasingly found in Danish canteens, restaurants and public institutions. Organic sales to the country’s private and public commercial kitchens have increased by 9.4% from 2012 to 2013. Organic revenues more than doubled since 2009.


Logocos Naturkosmetik AG under new leadership
Source: Logocos PR  

The double management at Logocos is now shared by Alexander Welter and Heinz-Jürgen Weiland. The supervisory board has appointed Alexander Welter to the company’s board of managing directors, with immediate effect. This position means that he is the successor of Ulrich Grieshaber (picture), who is leaving the company. Mr. Grieshaber had only taken over this post about one and a half years ago.

Another member of the board, Heinz-Jürgen Weiland, remains in his position as head of the research and development departments. Ulrich Franz, chairman of the supervisory board at Logocos Naturkosmetik AG: “Alexander Welter is an entrepreneur from Hanover who has been affiliated with Logocos for a long time, both as a private investor and as an advisor. He shall continue on our course of developing the Logona, Sante, Heliotrop and Fitne brands still further."


First Fairtrade organic sugar mill
Source: Fairtrade International  

Fairtrade sugar farmers from the remote Manduvira Cooperative in western Paraguay were celebrating an extraordinary achievement – the ribbon-cutting of the world’s first producer-owned Fairtrade organic sugar mill, Fairtrade International reports (see picture). Manduvira’s new mill will be a boon for the 1,750 member-strong farmers’ organization, which will no longer have to pay to rental and transport costs to another mill, 100 km away along dirt roads.

“This is what we want to see - producers who think big,” said Gustavo Leite, Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade, as he congratulated the producers and cooperative leaders. (Picture: Everything is possible for those who believe). Paraguay’s Vice President, John Eudes Afara Maciel, joined Leite and other government ministers and sugar farmers at the launch of the venture on 24 April 2014. The mill has the capacity to process 200,000 mt of organic sugar cane a year.

The Manduvira Cooperative exports certified organic and Fairtrade sugar to almost 20 countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Latin America, New Zealand and South Korea. Fairtrade staff have worked with the producer group helping it to achieve organic certification and long-term relationships with international clients.

“Huge congratulations to Manduvira for taking greater control of the value chain and ensuring benefits remain in its community," said Monika Berresheim-Kleinke, Global Product Manager for Sugar at Fairtrade International, who attended the event alongside more than 2,000 others.

The mill has nearly 200 employees, including farmers’ sons and daughters, who previously had left the area to find work or attend school in the capital, Asuncion, but who have now returned. “The cooperative creates new jobs.

This new mill will give new opportunities for members and non-members, really the entire community,” said Teresa Alejandra Pereira, who serves as Executive Secretary of Manduvira and also helps her father manage their 3 hectare farm.

The farmers believe the quality of their sugar will also benefit from the new mill with the freshly cut cane arriving sooner for processing than in the past. Bagasse, a by-product of processing sugar, will generate energy for the mill and the cooperative is asking for permission to deliver power to the wider community and beyond.


If your food could talk, what would it tell you?
Source: Organic UK  

If your food could talk, what would it tell you? Click here 


Spain: El Huerto de Lucas launched
Source: El Huerto de Lucas  

A new organic location was launched in the San Lucas Street in Madrid on 22 May 2014 – El Huerto de Lucas (The Garden of Lucas). Located in the heart of Chueca, El Huerto de Lucas is an organic food market with a broad offer on more than 450 m². The space also has an organic canteen, run by chef Javier Muñoz-Calero who announces a “honest kitchen with ingredients from the market".

The meals made with organic ingredients can be enjoyed at El Huerto de Lucas or as take-away.

A shop offers dry goods like cereals, packaged goods, preserves and a range of wine.

A bakery, a butchery, delicatessen, fruit and vegetables, poultry, a place for sprouts and juices, coffee and tea as well as an ice cream parlor give visitors a full organic food offer. Further seasonal products will be displayed like algae, mushrooms and chestnuts. There is also space for pop-up stores and a family friendly library.

The studio More&Co has designed the place free of toxics and as a healthy, natural island in the middle of Madrid. El Huerto de Lucas is open as follows: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 21:00., and Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00.


New Green Formulations Masterclass in Paris
Source: Organic Monitor  

A new Masterclass aims to promote the use of green ingredients in personal care applications. Taking place at the Trocadero Business Center in Paris on 25 June 2014, the one-day training programme will feature novel and emerging green ingredients and tackle their associated formulation issues. Organised by Organic Monitor, the Masterclass has been designed to encourage cosmetic brands and ingredient firms to use green materials. A range of green alternatives are now available to synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers, surfactants, thickeners and stabilisers in cosmetic applications. By discussing their technical issues and providing practical advice, the Masterclass aims to encourage the use of such green materials.

The first part of the Masterclass will give an update on new and emerging green ingredients. After an introductory seminar by Organic Monitor, Symrise will explore the opportunities provided by marine-based ingredients. Tony Gough from Innospec will discuss developments in green emulsifiers and surfactants. What are the most cost-effective green alternatives to SLS and SLES in personal care applications? Other papers will discuss green materials for thickeners and stabilisers, and developing paraben-free cosmetic formulations. With many brands still grappling to formulate certified products, an update will be given on popular natural & organic cosmetic standards. CosmeBio and Ecocert will state the technical and raw material requirements of the Cosmos standard, whilst Dr. Mark Smith will give an update on the Natrue standard. Organic Monitor will then present its latest findings on the European market for natural & organic cosmetics, stating the differences in standards and market developments between countries.

In the second part of the Masterclass, Judi Beerling, Technical Research Manager of Organic Monitor, will give a dedicated workshop on green actives. Many brands are turning to green actives for innovation; however their use brings technical hurdles. The workshop will give details of popular classes of green actives and their functionality in cosmetic applications.

Since 2008, Organic Monitor has been hosting Natural Cosmetic Masterclasses and workshops at various international locations that include London, Nuremberg, Bologna, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.


IFOAM annual report: Our Earth, our Mission
Source: IFOAM  

IFOAM has just published its 2013 annual report Our Earth, Our Mission. The title echoes IFOAM’s continued dedication to working towards a sustainable world by advancing the organic alternative. The report includes themes like the organic world in a glance, IFOAM’s political system, IFOAM’s global activities and action groups.

The year 2013 has many highlights, including the introduction of the concept of Organic 3.0 – the third developmental phase in the global organic movement. One significant project in this context is the Best Practice Guideline for Agriculture and Value Chains. Another important event on the road to Organic 3.0 is the setting up of the Technology Innovation Platform of IFOAM (TIPI) that was established at BioFach Nuremberg 2013.


Consumer Behaviour Key to Sustainable Proteins Success
Source: Organic Monitor  

Major changes in consumer lifestyles are necessary if the food industry is to avoid a proteins crisis. Protein alternatives to meats and seafood will be featured in the upcoming European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit. According to the FAO United Nations, demand for animal proteins is expected to rise by over 30% by 2050. The expanding population and changing dietary habits in the developing world are putting pressure on existing protein sources.

Many are advocating plant-based proteins, such as soya, peas and wheat. Vegetarian foods are already using tofu, seitan and mycoproteins as meat substitutes. Plant-based proteins have a lower environmental impact as they require less land area, water and energy then livestock products. However, with growing competition for agricultural land area and rising commodity prices, these plants may only provide a partial solution to the proteins conundrum. The need for sustainable proteins is casting the spotlight on entomology.

Plant-based proteins, insects, and new technologies are part of the solution. However, consumer behaviour is the biggest obstacle to averting a proteins crisis. Meat consumption levels have stagnated in Western Europe as meat reduction and vegetarianism have become socially acceptable. Further lifestyle changes are required if sustainable proteins are to take root. Rising prices of meat and seafood products, as well as food scandals, are likely to influence consumer behaviour.

Organic Monitor research finds that over 10% of wild fish sold in Europe is now from a sustainable source. Some brands are going further by providing complete traceability. In the Netherlands, Fish Tales gives the names of the fishermen who caught the fish on product packs. By doing so, the Dutch company gives a personal connection to each of its products. Another brand - FollowFish - enables consumers to scan a barcode on its products to trace the fish products to where caught and how transported. Followfish products are certified organic and MSC. Such transparency is lacking in the meat industry, although organic and ethical labels have become popular.

Organised by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues in a high level forum.


The Future Direction of Clean Labels
Source: Organic Monitor  

Clean labels are becoming ubiquitous in the food industry, with a growing number of companies marketing their products with ‘free-from’ labels. Organic Monitor research finds that the mushrooming number of free-from claims is bringing many challenges.

Organic is the largest clean label in the food industry. Since the introduction of formal standards in the 1990s, the global market for organic products has grown from almost nothing to US$64bn (close to €47bn). In North America, GM-free is the fastest growing clean label. The market for Non-GMO Project verified products expanded by over 20% to US$5bn last year.

As will be shown at the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit, free-from ingredient labels are showing most growth in Europe. Initially sought after by consumers with food sensitivity, demand for gluten-free and dairy-free products has broadened to make them the dominant sectors. Non-dairy is becoming so popular that their market share of total drinking milk sales is approaching 5% in some countries. Originally confined to health food shops, dairy alternatives to milk, yoghurts, and desserts, are now fixtures in mainstream retailers. Almost all supermarkets in Western Europe are offering such products under their private labels.

Organic Monitor finds that clean labels do not always provide transparency. Consumers are turning to clean labels, such as organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, GM-free as they would like assurances products do not contain potentially contentious ingredients. However, the absence of such ingredients does not provide traceability. Indeed, clean labels can also be concealed.

Without industry standards and labelling consistency, such free-from claims could become self-defeating. A decade ago, natural claims were all the rage in North America; the proliferation in natural labels and logos led to consumer distrust and anathema.


Denmark: Over 700 kitchens carry organic catering logo
Source: Organic Denmark  

Representatives of kitchens from all corners of Denmark were invited to the organic pavillion at Foodexpo in Herning this March to receive an organic catering logo by the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Dan Jørgensen (picture). On that day, no less than 83 organic catering logos were awarded to canteens, nurseries, nursing homes and several other kitchens, bringing the total number of locations boasting the logo to 700, Organic Denmark reports.

Through those kitchens, a lot of people consume organic food in their everyday lives. Among the many benefits of the organic change in the kitchens are healthier meals", said Minister Dan Jørgensen before awarding the organic catering logos. He pointed towards the increase of vegetables on menus provided by caterers who recently converted to organic, which also implies fewer pesticides.

The Organic Pavilion at the fair also formed the setting for the launch of the book ”Sund fornuft – økologi til ældre og patienter” - "Common sense - ecology for the elderly and patients."


Growing number of organic chains in Germany
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

About half of all specialist organic stores (200-399 m²) and of organic supermarkets (from 400 m²) now belong to a chain. The number of retail companies in the organic sector that run five or more stores has now grown to 22. Thus the organic sector is reaping the benefits of the efficiency that accompanies multiplicity. Of the approximately 770 specialist organic stores and organic supermarkets, 433 belong to one of the 22 chains that have been created in the last 15 years. These chains are, however, not a homogeneous bunch, and we see considerable differences in their development dynamic, aims and strategies. The actors operating successfully across the whole of Germany include Denn’s Biomarkt, Alnatura and Basic. At the end of 2013, they accounted for 236 outlets.

The vast majority of small chains are local actors with 5-19 stores. This category includes 16 companies like Aleco in Bremen (13), Voll Corner in Munich (12), Erdkorn in Hamburg (9) and Naturgut in Stuttgart (8). A special case is VivBiofrischemarkt (10), with stores in Berlin and one in Rostock, because this organic chain was taken over by Dennree but still operates under the old name.

35 new stores were launched by the three nationwide companies last year. The three regionalists accounted for 21 stores, and the 16 local companies accounted for 22. 33 were opened by independent organic operators. Some of this expansion is attributable to moving to bigger premises, and some is down to adding a new location to one or two existing stores. Currently, a lot of retailers run three or four stores.

Denn’s Biomarkt ended last year with a tally of 130 stores. Added to these are the 10 VivBiofrischemarkt stores in Berlin, and in Austria there are another 13 Denn’s. In the first quarter of this year they took a break after launching 23 new stores in 2013. In Austria, they opened two more branches in Vienna. On 10 April, a new 640 m² store was opened in Hennef (NRW), and one in Hanover (450 m²) was a relocation.

At the end of 2013, Alnatura had 80 branches in 40 towns. They again have an ambitious programme for 2014: new stores were launched in Ravensburg on 27 February, in Cologne and Munich on 13 March, and in Karlsruhe 10 April was the day when the fourth Alnatura store (approximately 600 m²) opened its doors


Germany: Fairtrade sales are increasing
Source: Fairtrade Deutschland  

In 2013, turnovers of Fairtrade products reached €654m in Germany, an increase of 23%. The total volume of sales was 71,000 tons – a plus of 34% on 2012. The range of Fairtrade products is increasing massively, and the Fairtrade range of well-known brands and private labels is expanding too.

About 280 companies offer around 4,000 Fairtrade products. The share of products that is also certified organic is at 65%. With about 11,000 tons (a plus of 20%), coffee keeps its important role. Sales of bananas increased by 50% to almost 32,000 tons.

Fairtrade keeps on developing and working on its standard. A next major step will be the development of a Fairtrade textile standard.


Brazil: Organic and Sustainable Brazil during Fifa World Cup
Source: Estádio Nacional de Brasília  

In the framework of the campaign Organic and Sustainable Brazil, family farmers will have a chance to promote their products, Estádio Nacional de Brasília reports

Between 11 and 27 June 2014, each kiosk will have six representatives from family farms to promote the consumption of healthy foods. ” The campaign will show the visitors – Brazilian and foreign – the potential of the Brazilian family farming , which is increasingly organized and structured to serve the market, the National Secretary for Food and Nutrition Security of MDS, Arnoldo Campos explains.

The companies that will sell the products in kiosks during the World Cup have already been selected. The result of the public tender is available on the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS) website.


Organic food companies greening their supply chains
Source: Sustainable Food Trade Association  

The Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) is a trade association that helps North American organic food companies create and implement innovative, sustainable business practices throughout the supply chain – from farm to retail (also see our former report). According to the Sustainable Food Trade Association’s second annual Member Sustainability Progress Report, the organic food industry is taking giant strides to reduce its footprint in eleven areas from farm to retail.

he 64 SFTA member companies make a conscious decision to reduce the impact of their operations on the earth in key areas they commit to in a Declaration of Sustainability: expanding organic offerings; reducing energy, waste, water use, and their impact on climate change; improving animal husbandry, distribution/sourcing, and packaging practices, and addressing governance and employee relations. In addition, the SFTA members audit, analyze, and report on their sustainability activities, and have been doing so since 2008.

Packaging reduction, elimination, and transformation are priorities for everyone. 100% of members have active goals and efforts in place to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment. As a result, reporting manufacturers and distributors eliminated over 175,000 pounds of packaging materials in 2012, and grocery retailers saved the use of over 3.3 million bags. Reduction of waste is a major focus. Reporting SFTA members diverted an average of 71% of their waste from landfills; 40% of reporting members had a diversion rate of 80% or higher.

Community involvement continues to increase and contribute millions of dollars. Organic companies recognize the importance of community and giving. SFTA members increased total community donations in 2013 by a whopping 57%. This translates into over US$6.9m dedicated to communities.


Public consultation on aquaculture
Source: IFOAM  

Organic aquaculture is a sector in fast development. Yet, for the organic movement, some fundamental questions are still on the table: can the concept of ‘organic’ really accommodate aquaculture and if so, on what scale?

For example, some aquaculture systems are completely disconnected from the natural environment and function rather as processing plants than as farms (e.g. in-door tank systems), IFOAM reports. Also, many species currently raised in organic aquaculture systems are carnivorous and are fed on leftovers from so-called ‘sustainable fisheries’, i.e. feed that is not certified organic and that may negatively impact wild fish stocks and ecosystems.

Therefore, IFOAM has launched a broad public consultation on what organic should mean for aquaculture. It addresses organic professional as well as organic consumers.


USA: Petition for Saving America’s Pollinators Act
Source: OCA  

First Lady Michelle Obama has finished planting her sixth-annual White House Kitchen Garden. This year, she planted a pollinator garden to attract and support 70,000 bees already gracing the presidential lawn, as well as monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

A great step, but, what is really needed, is a ban on the toxic pesticides and herbicides that are responsible for killing off huge populations of honeybees, OCA reports. A petition was launched to tell First Lady Michelle Obama to set an example for the nation by urging the Obama Administration and Congress to support H.R. 2692, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.

Last year, beekeepers reported losses of 40-90%, with some beekeepers losing 100% of their hives, according to OCA. Mounting scientific evidence points to the world’s most popular class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, as the key precipitator of the global bee die-off, or Colony Collapse Disorder (CDC).


IFOAM EU: Organic sector concludes organic regulation proposal is inadequate
Source: IFOAM EU Group Press Release  

The organic sector discussed the legislative proposal for a new organic EU regulation during a stakeholder conference jointly organised by IFOAM EU and the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the EU on 29 April 2014. An overwhelming majority of the 140 participants from the organic sector, NGOs and Member states agreed that the proposal, in its current form, is inadequate.

Participants shared and supported the Commission´s aim for a sustainable growth of organic food and farming throughout Europe and acknowledge the need for further development of the regulation based on organic principles. Nevertheless, the sector is concerned that the proposal would lead to a decline of organic production in Europe, in particular at the expense of small organic farms and businesses, and less developed regions.

IFOAM EU recognises that the proposal delivers some valuable and innovative elements, and welcomes that it was accompanied with an EU organic action plan. However, it fails to deliver any real benefits over and above the present regulation and thus IFOAM EU rejects the proposal in its current form, unless substantially changed.


UK: Natural Food Show announces new pavilions for 2014
Source: Diversified UK  

This year’s Natural Food Show at the Natural & Organic Products Europe trade event will host a new Soil Association Organic Chilled Food Pavilion when it returns to London’s Olympia on 13-14 April 2014. This pavilion, launched in association with the Soil Association (who previously hosted The Natural Food Show’s organic marketplace), reaffirms the event’s on-going commitment to supporting the UK’s organic market.

Set to feature new food and drink products from nine Soil Association licensees, it aims to raise buyers’ awareness of the quality, innovation and differentiation available within the fresh organic marketplace. The pavilion will feature everything from cheese, milk, yoghurt, cream, and butter, to meat, fish, drinks, ice cream, and desserts. According to Soil Association trade consultant Finn Cottle, chilled food accounts for more than 40% of the UK’s organic market.

The Organic Trade Board (OTB) Pavilion will return to the show, as well as the Raw Food Pavilion, Vegan Society Pavilion, and New Products Showcase. As in previous years, international organic producers will also be well represented. For 2014, there are new country pavilions from Sicily and Russia. They join returning pavilion contingents from Argentina, France, Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the USA. New exhibitors from Romania, Sierra Nevada in Spain, and Crete have also just been confirmed.


Bulgaria: Tradin’s sunflower processing facility opens oil crushing line
Source: Tradin Organic Agricultur  

Tradin Organic Agriculture, headquartered in Amsterdam and part of the SunOpta International Foods Group, has announced the start of operations at the new production line for organic crude sunflower oil in their processing facility in Bulgaria. While the factory is undergoing further construction work for extension of storage space, the new oil crushing line is expected to be fully running from February onwards.

The acquisition and extension of the sunflower processing facility in Silistra, Bulgaria, has been an important element of the company-wide plan for further vertical integration of Tradin Organic’s global sourcing operations and extension of value-added ingredient capabilities. Next to organic sunflower oil, the facility processes sunflower kernels and chips for the international snack and bakery industry

Silistra is located in north east Bulgaria, close to the Black Sea and the Danube River Delta. Located nearby in Romania is a sizable agricultural area that is protected and chemical free, with many growers producing organic products including sunflower, flax seed, corn, barley and soy beans.


Call to host IFOAM World Congress 2017
Source: IFOAM  

Every three years, IFOAM comes together with a national organic association and its partners to host the Organic World Congress. The congress attracts a diverse audience of organic growers, producers, distributors, certifiers, market experts and scientists. Host countries can expect to welcome approx. 2,000 people. IFOAM is now looking for a city to host the 19th edition of the Organic World Congress in 2017.

Bids are welcome from member organizations or a consortium thereof. Further assistance from organizations whose activities are in line with the principles of organic culture is permitted. Bits of 4 - 8 pages should detail experience or ability to host the congress, a verifiable budget plan, proposed venues, information on external service providers and a breakdown of total organization costs. Letters of support from institutions, government agencies or others are also welcome.


New study on concentration of the European seed market
Source: The Greens / EFA Group  

The Greens/EFA group have presented a new study highlighting the concentration of the European seed market. In contrast with claims by the European Commission that market concentration is not a problem; the study revealed five companies (also producing agrochemical products) control more than 50% of the seed market, with major consequences for farmers, agro-biodiversity, innovation and food security.

Green agriculture spokesperson Martin Häusling said: "This study reveals a clear inconsistency in the approach of the European Commission to the regulation of the seed market. The Commission's own impact assessment revealed that 95% of the vegetable seed sector is controlled by a mere five companies, yet in proposing draft seed legislation the Commission claimed there was no problem with market concentration. Against this background of flawed assumptions, the only pragmatic approach would be to send the Commission proposal on seed marketing back to the drawing board and we are calling on the European Parliament to unite and reject the draft legislation.

Too much power in the hands of a few agrochemical seed companies has major consequences for farmers, according to Mr. Häusling. Prices of seed and planting stock have increased rapidly in recent years: by an average of 30.2% between 2000 and 2008 for the EU. EU seed policies must be based on the principle of diversity, not corporate uniformity and tailoring seed to be dependent on agro-chemical inputs.

Green environment spokesperson Satu Hassi added that a concentrated sector is not a healthy sector in terms of competition and market openness, but it also negatively affects the biological, especially genetic, diversity of our crops. There has been a steady global decrease in agricultural and horticultural genetic diversity, both in terms of genetic variation within strains and also the absolute numbers available for farmers and gardeners. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates the diversity of cultivated crops declined 75% during the 20th century and that a third of today’s diversity could disappear by 2050.


Fairtrade announces sweeping changes
Source: Fairtrade International PR  

Fairtrade International has overhauled its Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labour to strengthen the position of workers in Fairtrade certified plantations and estates producing tea, bananas and other fruit, cut flowers, herbs, vegetables and sports ball factories, Fairtrade International reports. The newly revised standard includes detailed requirements to guarantee workers’ right to freely organize and collectively bargain. Certified producer companies must not only declare this right publically to workers, but allow unions to meet with workers and offer to engage in a collective agreement process with worker representatives if there is none in place.

Fairtrade International is also introducing a new methodology to set living wage benchmarks and a clear process for plantations to progress towards a living wage. The new methodology has been developed and benchmarks have already been set in some areas. Fairtrade International is now in the process of calculating rural living wage benchmarks for each region with Fairtrade certified plantations. Fairtrade presented the new methodology and benchmarks to industry partners and at the recent European Conference on Living Wages to build wider agreement. “Our work is far from over.

Other changes include new criteria to strengthen Fairtrade benefits for workers, including temporary and migrant workers. Workers will have more control on how they spend the Fairtrade Premium, the funds for workers’ development. Elected worker representatives will report expenditure to a general assembly of workers. Workers can newly use a portion of this money for cash or in-kind bonuses.

The new Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labour will come into effect for companies in June. The release of the new Standard for Hired Labour on plantations follows the release of the 2012 Strategy for Hired Labour and is part of Fairtrade’s ongoing work to improve and extend the benefits of Fairtrade to all waged workers involved in Fairtrade supply chains


Italy: Positive development of land and farmers in 2012
Author: Roberto Pinton
Source: AssoBio  

On 31.12.2011, there were 41,811 agricultural producers in Italy - of whom 3,906 also carried out some processing activity. 6,165 enterprises were engaged in processing and distribution and 230 were importers (63 were exclusively importers, while others were also involved in production or processing). On the same date, organic land measured 1,096,089 hectares, of which about 75% had completed the conversion phase.

The southern regions continue to record the highest number of farms (Sicily, Calabria and Apulia account for more than 47% of the national total) and the northern regions have the greatest number of companies engaged in processing and distribution. Almost 33% are located in Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Venice.

The trend line is positive, both for the number of farms and the land area, but the market continues to grow at a higher rate. More than due to competition from imports, this phenomenon is explained by the measures of the European CAP (rural development plans). In fact, the strongest fluctuations in the number of farms was reported in 2004 and coincided with the end of grants provided by Regulation 2078/1992 in Piedmont, Apulia, Sicily and Sardinia, and in 2009 because of the difficulties in starting the new rural development plans in several regions.

In 2009, the number of farmers reported in Sardinia was halved (from 2,620 to 1,351), in Trentino South Tyrol it fell by 18.2 % (from 1,492 to 1,220) and in Basilicata by more than 19% (from 4,155 to 3,352 farms). But in the same year, the neighbouring Apulia recorded an increase of 23.3 % (from 5,093 to 6,280 farms) and Sicily saw a plus of 6.1% (from 6,988 to 7,417).

Thus, on the one hand, co-operatives and trading companies complain about the inadequacy of the productive base (demand is growing not only in the home market but even in the export business) and, on the other hand, there is a considerable number of farms which cultivate according to organic methods but are not able to exploit their organic status. Despite prices at farm level being interesting, the supply has difficulty in meeting demand. There are clear reasons for these difficulties: problems of logistics and business structures must not be underestimated, but the real issue is that in addition to certification farms must be accredited, must adapt to GlobalGAP protocols and product standards, and they must adhere to overall crop programming and accept specific control plans.

Over time, the organizational infrastructure and services for organic farms have been paradoxically reduced on account of short-sighted decisions at the national and regional levels.

Another reason is that the amount of funding is likely to be welcomed by marginal farms, which will be further integrated with low agricultural incomes. But large-scale and professional farms will not be interested - no highly specialized horticulturalist will be encouraged to start the conversion of his farm with the incentive of €300 per hectare, and no modern fruit farm will risk new phytosanitary problems for the sake of €1,600 per hectare

The problem is that rather than being an instrument to orientate farmers towards more eco-friendly production methods and to support business decisions, the rewards of the CAP have become a welfare tool for marginal farms that are mostly not active in the market. Thus great potential is squandered. The real need is for the CAP resources to support the launch of platforms, to stimulate the aggregation of farms and their networking: it’s the only way to give more stability to the number of organic farms.


Cosmebio: A fresh new look at organic cosmetics
Source: Cosmebio  

In July 2013, Cosmebio, the first international association for natural, ecological and organic cosmetics created in France 2002, launched its new Facebook page featuring a photo contest ‘My top favourite certified organic cosmetics’, plus a campaign blog. Their objective: educate and promote organic cosmetics to the public, and introduce them to 500 organic cosmetic brands..

The contest ran from 23 September to 18 December 2013 and featured competitions in the three categories that each ran for a month: Mother and Baby; Women; and Men. Three winners were chosen for the Public Award and one winner for the Jury Award.

145 pictures were posted on Cosmebio’s page, over 20,000 votes were casted and positive feedback came from over 30 bloggers. Powerful catch phrases communicate the changing image of organic cosmetics - one that emphasizes the pleasure of beauty and safe and healthy cosmetics that help preserve the environment. A fresh new look is taken at organic cosmetics that is full of promises for their future and customer trust in these products.


Organic Farming Innovation Award
Source: IFOAM  

Every three years, IFOAM and the Rural Development Association (RDA)honor the great work of organic innovators with the Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA). They are now calling on the organic movement to bring to their attention the excellent work carried out by organic innovators across the globe for the OFIA 2014.

The award ceremony is taking place during the 18th edition of the Organic World Congress (OWC) in Istanbul,Turkey on 14 October 2014. The winning applicants are granted travel and accommodation costs as well as free registration for the OWC.

Innovations are sought that are: new in their context; applicable to organic farming, processing and trade; relevant for solving real problems or exploring new potentials; and have the potential to have a great impact. Applications can be submitted in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese or Korean. The deadline is 1 March 2014.


UK: Organic Cheese Showcase
Source: Soil Association  

The first Organic Cheese Showcase aims to raise awareness of the quality and choice of organic cheese to the trade and media. The event will take place in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, on 6 March 2014 as a unique opportunity for Soil Association licenced cheese producers to display and offer sampling of their great choice of organic cheeses.

There will also be some short presentations; an update on the market and consumer and some interesting case studies of successfully exporting organic cheese.

During the past year, the total organic market has stabilised and is showing buoyant growth in many areas. According to Nielsen data, the dairy sector is leading this trend with sales increases on organic milk and yoghurts of +3.4% and +6.7% respectively, whereas the organic cheese sector is performing less well at -2.3%. There are still a large number of delicious organic cheeses being produced in the UK, however they are much less available through mainstream retailers: apart from Sainsbury who display a credible range of So Organic cheese.


European Seed Legislation: Who will profit, who will lose?
Source: Demeter  

Demeter International and its alliance partners invited to a European seed legislation and policy conference Challenges for producers, consumers and citizens: Who will own the seeds?

The conference took place in Brussels on 22 January 2014 under the patronage of IFOAM EU and was supported by 16 stakeholder NGOs. Representatives of the European Institutions, Member State Authorities, farmers’ associations, breeders, seed savers, universities, churches, journalists and many relevant NGOs attended the conference with more than 120 participants.

Whereas Päivi Mannerkorpi from the European Commission (DG Health and Consumers) suggested that the legislative proposal on plant reproductive material offers sufficient new possibilities for more diversified production, relevant policy decision makers and stakeholders had their reservations. MEP Martin Häusling (The Greens/EFA) stated that seeds are a public good and therefore of public interest. Their regulation must be further discussed in public, not only in the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission’s proposal tries to put the seed market in order, but doesn’t really initiate a development for more sustainable farming and agro-biodiversity. Consequently the present proposal doesn’t fulfil sufficiently the needs of organic farming. Moreover, the EP was given far too little time to find a satisfying consensus.

Antje Kölling from the IFOAM EU Group outlined needs for changes in seed legislation, emphasizing that appropriate rules must apply for varieties which are adapted to organic conditions. Work with genetic resources by non-professionals must not be regulated, but remain free. Gebhard Rossmanith, CEO of the biodynamic breeding company Bingenheimer Saatgut AG in Germany, stated that organic breeding of open pollinated varieties needs fair access to market. This means adapted criteria for the registration tests with the focus on special aspects of organic farming and the needs of farmers and consumers. Pierre Sultana (Arche Noah, a seed savers’ association from Austria) was concerned about the consequences of EU policy and legislation concerning free exchange of seeds and agro-biodiversity. The Commission’s proposal is very well polished from a first point of view, but when going into the details, it would further endanger agro-biodiversity in Europe. A shift from a compulsory system of registration and certification to a voluntary one is needed and would really offer a “better regulation” while protecting biodiversity. Guy Kastler (Réseau Semences Paysannes, a French seed exchange network) commented on the current legal and seed market situation in France and analysed possible advantages and disadvantages of the proposed European seed law. Some issues like for instance the legal option of free exchange of seeds among farmers and gardeners would be welcomed, while some other parts of the regulation could not be accepted.

Edith Lammerts van Bueren (Wageningen University) gave an overview on the state of the art with regard to seed research and development. To develop our seeds we need to involve not only farmers and breeders, but also other stakeholders in the food chain including citizens. We need to develop plant breeding into farmer-based and citizen based breeding models (i.e. “systems breeding”). Véronique Chable (INRA, France) emphasised the importance of more participatory research (with farmers and citizens) for new locally adapted and open pollinating varieties. For achieving this goal it is decisive to work on the local level in as many places as possible. Roikos Thanopoulos (Peliti, a Greek seed savers and exchange network) pointed out that landraces, created by farmers, are a very important component of European agro-biodiversity and in parallel excellent material for organic farming. Landraces should have their well-defined and appropriate place in the new seed regulation

Carsten Berg (Expert for European Citizens’ Initiatives – ECIs) emphasized the importance of citizens’ participation. We could only save seeds and biodiversity for the future, if we succeeded to create much more awareness of citizens and consumers in this field. The establishing of a broad European citizens movement is urgently needed. Million Belay (Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa - AFSA) reported about the threats of African seed law harmonization for farmers, consumers and food sovereignty in African countries. He stated that the conference in Brussels was helpful to understand the European context and to articulate the African case. Africa should not follow Europe’s way, i.e. that farmers would lose seed sovereignty. In the final session of the conference it was concluded that Europe is not at the end of the seed legislation process. It goes on and further engagement of citizens and NGOs, representing civil society, is of eminent importance. The broader picture of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) shows still a too dominant priority setting on competition in agriculture and in the seed market. Therefore it is very difficult to achieve seed conservation and enhance agro-biodiversity within the current system. However there is hope for a beginning paradigm shift, if civil society and more and more consumers will express their demand for a European agricultural system and practice, in which seed and cultivated plant diversity is one important basic element.


USA: Cheerios go GMO-free
Source: Rodale  

General Mills has announced that they would start making their original breakfast cereals Cheerios without GMO ingredients. According to General Mills, "Cheerios has always been made with whole grain oats, and there are no GMO oats. A small amount of corn starch in cooking is used, and one gram of sugar per serving. Now that corn starch comes only from non-GM corn, and the sugar is only non-GM pure cane sugar.

The campaign GMO Inside has been attacking the food giant's iconic cereal brand since 2012, after the company spent over US$1 million to defeat California's Proposition 37, which would have required GMOs to be labeled in the state. They were able to get 65,000 people to call and email the company and comment on Cheerios' Facebook page, demanding that they rid the cereal - often the first solid food fed to infants - of GMOs.

Similar consumer pressure on Kellogg's led the company to having all the cereals in its Kashi line certified by the nonprofit Non-GMO Project. Rodale reports. But General Mills' move to kick GMOs out of Cheerios is a hugely significant step; since General Mills is the largest packaged food company in the USA and Cheerios, its flagship brand, is the fourth best-selling cereal, according to the market researcher IRI Worldwide.


Meat Atlas – Facts and figures about animals we eat
Source: Heinrich Böll Stiftung  

The Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin and Friends of the Earth Europe in Brussels have jointly published the Meat Atlas – Facts and figures about the animals we eat.

The Meat Atlas sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

Food is a necessity, and also very personal.

Satisfaction reflects ethical decisions, and private concerns can be very political in nature. Since people are more and more alienated from what is on plates, responsible food consumption is something that a number of people demand.


USA: Maine passes GMO labelling law
Source: GMWatch  

In December 2013, the Governor of Connecticut signed the first GMO labelling law in the USA. Maine now follows as the second state to pass such a law, GM Watch reports. Governor Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labelling of genetically modified foods. Proposals have been introduced in close to 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labelling law.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates 70% of the products sold in American supermarkets contain GM ingredients. According to GM Watch, 64 countries around the world label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, including all of Europe, Russia, China, Brazil, India, and Saudi Arabia.


First Ukrainian Country Stall at BioFach Nuremberg
Source: FiBL  

For the first time, at Biofach 2014, Ukraine will have an own organic country stall: in Hall 5, booth 5-161. Involving ten important Ukrainian companies, the stall is organised in the frame of the Swiss-Ukrainian Organic Market Development in Ukraine project, funded by the Swiss Confederation through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

In cooperation with FiBL Switzerland, the exhibiting companies present products for which Ukraine has excellent production conditions: cereals, soy, sunflower seeds and oil as well as different wild collected plants.

The exhibiting companies and their main products are:

Agrofirma Pole Ltd: millet, hulled milled, mix of millet shells and meal, millet shells, sunflower seed, rape seed, mustard seed, wheat.
Casper, Ltd: sunflower oil, flax oil, pumpkin oil, mustard oil, rape oil, sunflower cake, flax cake, pumpkin cake, mustard cake, rape cake.
Chystiy Product-S, Ltd: watermelon, melon, garlic, garlic seeds, sunflower seeds pumpkin seeds.
El Dorado Oils, Ltd: sunflower oil linoleic RDB W, sunflower oil linoleic crude, sunflower oil higholeic RDB W, sunflower oil higholeic crude .
Firma Diamant, Ltd: oat flakes, oat groats, oatmeal, wheat flakes, wheat groats, buckwheat flakes, buckwheat groats, buckwheat flour, barley flakes, pearl barley, fine ground barley.
Galeks-Agro, Private Enterprise: spelt, wheat, barley, rye, maize, buckwheat, millet, oats, soy
Phytosvit, Ltd: Echinacea, chamomile, calendula, sage valerian, soybeans, mustard.
Rivneholod, ALC: blueberry, lingonberry, blackberry, elderberry, cranberry.


Keep Pioneer's GM maize from European fields
Source: Stop the Crop  

The ministers of all EU countries will decide whether Pioneer's GM maize with the technical name 1507 will be allowed to be grown in Europe. Immediate action is needed to avoid the cultivation of this maize.

There are many problems with Pioneer’s GM maize that produces its own insecticides. It could pose risks to butterflies and moths and there has been no research on its impacts to other beneficial insects such as bees and other pollinators. Additionally, the maize is tolerant to a glufosinate-based powerful weedkiller - such as Liberty - which is classified as highly toxic by the EU, Stop the Crop reports. Contrary to EU rules, the required safety assessment linked to the use of this weedkiller has not been done.


USA: Fast food chain takes of employers’ website
Source: OCA / ThinkProgress  

McDonald's internal McResource Line website had dispensed lifestyle tips relevant to people living on minimum wage. These included how much to tip a personal trainer or pool cleaner and that one should "sing away stress.",

And that one should probably not eat fast food: a photo of an "unhealthy" meal showing Coke, French Fries and a Burger was displayed on the website, and next to it a "healthier" meal of salad, water, and a sandwich. It added: While convenience and inexpensive for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat saturated fat, sugar, and salt. “Avoiding items that are deep fried are your best bet.” It seems even McDonald's was admitting its food was a bad choice.

The company’s McResource Line for workers will remain accessible by phone, but the fast food chain took its McResource website offline indefinitely. The website was taken down in part because of “unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary” directed toward the company’s interactions with its workforce, a company spokesperson said in a statement.


Germany: Sustainability in Fashion at Greenshowroom
Source: Esmod / Hess Natur  

The international University of Art for Fashion Esmod Berlin presents the Master Programme Sustainability in Fashion at the Greenshowroom during Mercedes Berlin Fashion Week January 2014. The presentation will include a small exhibition entiteled Leaving Traces, consisting of the´Serial Upcycling Collection with hessnatur as well as selected Graduate Projects from 2013 and the participation at the Salonshow, presenting selected projects from the serial Upcycling Workshop with hessnatur.

Esmod Master students participated in the Serial Upcycling Workshop with hessnatur. Given access to a range of unsold collection pieces, students were challenged to create and invent systems for serial up-cycling production in fashion for a larger scale, to rause re-up-cycling concepts to a higher level. Following a presentation to an international jury, the best garments have been chosen and the collection realized in a limited edition with profit participation for the winning concept. In January, the hessnatur Serial Upcycling Collection is available for online sale


Sustainable Foods Summit Hones in on Ecological Impacts
Source: Organic Monitor  

Ecology is the focal theme of the upcoming North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit. For the first time, a summit will discuss ways of promoting ecology in the food industry by focusing on sustainability metrics, ethical sourcing & biodiversity, and sustainable food ingredients. The fourth edition of this executive summit will be hosted in San Francisco on 22-23 January 2014.

Details will be given on the influence of food production & distribution on the environment and social communities. Another paper will cover the impact of modern agriculture on ecosystems.

Food ingredients for sustainability will be covered at the summit. Loders Croklaan and Daabon USA will discuss the opportunities provided by, as well as limitations of, sustainability roundtables for agricultural commodities. Bob Quinn, President and Founder of Kamut, will explain how the re-emergence of ancient grains is helping overcome monoculture. Diana Plant Sciences will explore the use of plant cell technology to produce sustainable food ingredients.


Organic pawpaw for export is the goal for young Sabeto farmers
Source: SUVA, (SPC)  

Twenty young farmers in Sabeto, on the western side of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, are working towards organic certification for papaya for both local and export markets.

The farmers, which include five females, have formed the Sabeto Organic Papaya Association and, with the assistance the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). They are developing an organic participatory guarantee system (PGS) which provides a credible organic guarantee and allows them to use the Organic Pasifika mark when marketing their products, both in Fiji and in nearby markets of Australia and New Zealand.

Organic certification offers niche export market opportunities to farmers but it also addresses important issues for the Pacific: enhancing biodiversity, protecting soils, improving the nutritional quality of food, and providing more employment in rural areas. Organic agriculture reduces greenhouse gas emissions, cuts nutrient and pesticide pollution, and stops potentially harmful pesticide residues entering our food chain.

Organic agriculture builds resilient farming systems capable of combating climate change and securing local food supplies, and is highly effective in sequestrating carbon.

POETCom has secured assistance from the International Fund for Agricultural Development to develop the pilot PGS certification and also from the Enhanced Climate Change Resilience of Food Production Systems USAID Project, implemented by SPC, to help with organic inputs, production and planting.

POETCom is the peak organics body for the Pacific region, and its secretariat is based at SPC with funding support from the EU Increasing Agricultural Commodities Trade project (IACT). POETCom’s vision is that Organics and Ethical trade will be the key contributors to sustaining our cultures and communities; improving farmer livelihoods, communities, people’s health and the environment in the Pacific..


Organic gardening: White butterflies - time for badminton practice?
Source: Paul Thompson  

Cabbage White butterflies are on the wing and likely to make an appearance in your garden any day now.

These cunning insects lay yellow, bullet-shaped eggs on the underside of leaves. These hatch into green caterpillars which are destructive. The young, pale yellowish green caterpillars start life very small and rapidly increase in size as they feed on the plant they hatched out onto. Their colour intensifies to a darker green and they develop a faint orange-yellow stripe along their side. By the time the have finished growing and are ready to pupate and emerge as adult butterflies they are about half the length of your little finger and almost as thick as a pencil. The caterpillar forms a white, silky chrysalis in the soil or on a woody plant stems and within a couple of weeks hatches into an adult butterfly ready to lay more eggs.

Plants affected by cabbage white butterflies soon start to look like a piece of holey Swiss cheese. Young plants can die and large plants become weakened and vulnerable to other pests and diseases with crops and harvests poor. The butterflies are fairly fast flyers and will leave a plant they are perched on as you approach them so it can be hard to target them. You may be successful if you whack at them with a badminton racket or a fishing net.

Plants can be protected with fine mesh netting. Scattering broken eggshells around the base of your plants is said to deter butterflies from landing on what they believe to be plants that are already infested with other butterflies. Planting nasturtiums near your brassicas draws Cabbage white butterflies away from your plants, they will lay on the nasturtiums that can then be removed and composted along with eggs and caterpillars. If you have the time to check the underside of outer leaves on your brassica plants eggs are fairly easy to spot and can be rubbed off.


Organic Gardens at Highgrove
Source: Rebecca Noel  

The most famous organic gardener in the world is probably Prince Charles. In 1980, he bought Highgrove House intending it to be a permanent home. He was determined to turn it into a completely organic farm and garden.

“It was difficult to know where to begin and I knew nothing about the practical aspects of gardening.” he stated in his book, Highgrove: portrait of an Estate. Prince Charles hired accomplished gardeners, including Mariam Rothschild and Sir Roy Strong, to help him reach his goal of an organic garden.

Just a few of the gardens are: a wild flower garden; a formal garden; and a walled kitchen garden designed by Lady Salisbury, an expert on organic gardening.

According to the official Highgrove House website, it takes about two hours to walk through the gardens guided by one of Prince Charles’ highly qualified guides. There are two different tours available to groups. The regular tour takes a group of twenty six people through the garden and ends with tea and refreshments in the Orchard Restaurant. The Champagne Tea tour, however, is a group of only sixteen people and ends in the Orchard Restaurant where the group is served tea and a glass of Highgrove champagne.


Taiwan Waste to Energy Incinerator And Organic Farms Present High-Tech And Low-Tech Methods For Going Green
Source: Clynt Ridgell  

Guam - As part of Taiwan's green efforts the Republic of China has promoted things like waste to energy incineration and organic farming. The island of Guam was at one point considering building an incinerator and there has been a recent resurgence in the promotion of local agriculture in the territory

In recent years the Republic of China or Taiwan has made a push to become "greener", or more environmentally friendly. Part of that push includes running a waste to energy incinerator, basically a power plant that makes energy by burning their trashIt's called the Bali Refuse Incineration Plant. It takes up about 3.5 hectares, is comprised of three incinerators and can burn up to 1,350 metric tons of trash per day producing 250 million kilowatt hours of energy per year.

it's recieved numerous environmental awards and accolades from the Taiwan government but most notable is it's certification from the SGS S.A. formerly the Societe Generale de Surveillance, a multinational company from Geneva, Switzerland that provides certifications for various things including air and emission quality. the sgs s.a. has certified the plant for being capable of reducing 19,297 tons of co2e or carbon dioxide equivalent annually

The plant itself is clean, there is no foul odor or smell of trash and no noticeable smoke coming out of it's smokestack.

These are all experienced farmers who until three years ago were farming using more conventional non-organic techniques. These farmers used to rely on the many different chemicals found in pesticides and fertilizers but now they have gone organic and it looks as if they don't plan on turning back

The Shin-Chien Organic Dream Village utilizes compost instead of chemical fertilizers, they also have rice-aquaculture methods in which fish like Tilapia swim and live in the rice patties. The fish feed off of rice pests and other insects while their waste provides nitrogen and other natural fertilizers for the rice. Also the leftover rice stalks are used as compost to improve soil quality.


Organic chocolate threat: Farmers lack sufficient incentives to grow organic cocoa
Source: Oliver Nieburg  

Crown of Holland, a division of Tradin Organic, owned by SunOpta, last month opened a 9,000 MT per annum organic and speciality cocoa plant in Middenmeer, Netherlands. It was previously outsourcing cocoa processing, but noticed a steady rise in demand for organic beans and decided to produce itself.

Unlike Fairtrade certified cocoa, the premium for organic cocoa is not fixed. Taciak said the premium for organic beans varied between 10-25% above the market price. Farmers using pesticide and fertilizer can reach yields of 0.7-1.5 MT per hectare provided they manage their farm properly, whereas organic farms typically yield 300-500 Kg of cocoa beans per hectare.

Global organic chocolate confectionery value sales amounted to $734m in 2012, according to Euromonitor International. Euromonitor forecasts that the market will grow between 2-3% per year to reach $886m by 2018. Western Europe is the biggest market for organic chocolate, followed by North America and Australasia. Sales are expected to grow fastest in the Middle East & Africa, Latin America and North America, but the overall market is expected to grow at a far slower pace than growth rates between 2008 and 2012.

Only around 1.5% of the global cocoa supply is certified organic.

Organic cocoa comes mainly from fine flavor origins, principally the Dominican Republic and Peru. Other growing origins include: Ecuador, Madagascar, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Venezuela and Columbia and many more. Taciak said that the market was dominated by Latin American countries mainly because infrastructure there was more solid for organic program investments, especially for traceability. Transparency, so crucial in organic world, in the small volume producing countries is easier to achieve than in high volume regions such as West Africa, he said.


BioFach and Vivaness 2014: new look for congress
Source: NuernbergMesse  

Every year BioFach and Vivaness offer exhibitors, visitors and representatives from politics and media the biggest international exhibition platform for organic food and natural cosmetics.

Exhibitors and visitors can look forward to a number of changes for the congress at the 25th anniversary edition of the exhibition from 12-15 February 2014. (Picture: BioFach congress 2013)

The new features for 2014 include a more compact timetable in blocks that give participants more time for exhibition activities in the halls and provide better orientation. Congress visitors in 2014 can obtain information at altogether seven forums.


Estonia makes good progress in the organic sector
Author: Karin Heinze  

The most northerly Baltic state has gone through a remarkable development in the last 20 years, and today it's full of surprises in many respects.

As well as having a stable economy and an innovative IT sector, Estonia has an organic sector that is alive and well: 15 % of agricultural land is certified organic.

Even though processing is still at an early stage, consumers are keen to buy regional and organically produced food. For example, the chain Biomarket has five stores in Tallinn where it sells a range of around 4,000 products.

You find the organic idea has been taken up by restaurants in the tourism sector. Estonia will present its "natural" side as a partner country at the International Green Week in 2014.


USA: Report on health threat from antibiotic overuse in livestock
Source: The Organic Centre  

Pointing out that every year more than two million people in the USA get infections resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result, a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls for phasing out the routine use of antibiotics in industrial livestock production that has been linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary,” CDC declared, citing that the Food and Drug Administration in the USA (FDA) recently proposed guidance for using these drugs in food-producing animals only when medically necessary and targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems.

By choosing meat and dairy products bearing the organic label, consumers can avoid contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Jessica Shade, Ph.D., Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “Several studies have also found fewer antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria on organic foods. If you’re worried about dietary exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, choosing organic is a good idea.” She added, “Statistics released by FDA show that animal production uses over 29 million pounds of antibiotics annually. If everyone chose just one organic product out of every ten they purchased, we could eliminate over 2.5 million pounds of unnecessary antibiotic use each year.


Mádara: Nordic active agents as success factor
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

The long days in northern Europe, the short but much more intensive summer – that’s the point of departure for a start-up company in the natural cosmetics sector in Latvia. The desire to have products that are kind to the skin and whose origin is the natural world of the Baltic countries and Finland brought together four women from Riga. They got to know each other via the internet blog of Lotte Tisenkopfa. At that time the women, who were all in their early twenties and had just finished their studies, attempted the impossible, and they won - with Mádara.

Mádara now has 41 employees. Turnover is rising year on year, and in 2012 it had climbed to € 2,5 m. The founder of the company, Lotte Tisenkopfa, is anticipating further growth of 30 % in 2013. Mádara’s natural products are now exported to 25 countries. Finland, is also a source for some of the raw materials used to create the products. Other countries topping the export list are Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

“We had the idea of setting up a business to produce natural cosmetics when I arranged to meet Zane Tamane, who used to work as brand strategist at marketing agency in a café in Riga and she came along with a bar of soap,” The two later founders of the company had made contact via Lotte’s blog, where she talked about recipes for home-made natural cosmetics.

And she was not really convinced by the various alternatives from an organic shop in Riga either. So she set about making contact with like-minded people via her blog, and in no time at all she had done so. There was a great support for her ideas and recipes, and that’s how the meeting with Zane came about. Vija Enina’s advice was to look thoroughly into plants from the northern regions, because they contain a very high level of active ingredients on account of the longer days in summer and the greater intensity of sunlight to which they are exposed.

Mádara – also a girl’s name - is the Latvian for lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum). they use far more plants than this and they are cultivated or collected wild in the Baltic region and Finland: lady’s mantle, horsetail, sea buckthorn and red clover. These are examples of the ingredients found in the Anti-Ageing Range, whose base is birch sap. All this combined with the antioxidant and other properties of Galium verum. Birch sap is extracted by tapping the trees in Karelia in northern Finland and in Latvia.


Organic market in Russia: organic expands without certification
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

Eco-Union is the name of a Russian certification body that was founded as an NGO as long ago as 1991. Today it operates from three offices (picture) and a little kitchen in shared office premises in the centre of St. Petersburg. In those earlier days, the aim was to establish environmentally aware working practices and to influence society in favour of ecology. The inspection agency in St. Petersburg, that is managed by Yulia Gracheva, is also taking part in a joint project called Ecofood that involves the EU, Russia and Finland. The aim is to make the exchange of goods easier in the border region with Finland. Eco-Union’s organic guidelines, that are based on the organic guidelines of the EU, are being prepared, and they are scheduled for publication at the end of September

Russia to the EU must comply with EU organic standards, these standards play no part in the local market, where the situation is rather confused. Every retailer who buys in environmentally friendly goods has a different idea of how they were produced. For some it’s about “good professional practice” or “natural cultivation”, whereas for others it’s a question of animal welfare and organic management in its purest form.

However, there is so far neither an organic farmers’ association nor any kind of organization that could consult farmers and draw up guidelines in keeping with the conditions that prevail in Russia. the retail chain Azbuka vkusa ("The ABC of Taste”), they are in the process of founding an organic manufacturers’ association - the National Bio-Union (Nationalniy Organicheskiy Soyuz). The organization is currently being set up by four retailers and three producers and has its own guidelines.

The concept of the Globe of Gourmet Group, that trades on the internet as STK-Retail, is quality and freshness. The group runs six shops in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg. Store manager Marina Ganzenko says that 10 – 15 % of the products in the 900 m² store in St. Petersburg are organic. Amongst others Globus stores in Switzerland as a model. Prepared salads, side dishes and main meals can be taken away, or you can sit on high chairs at a long table and eat them in the store.

To ensure that the fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products are fresh, between six and eight farmers supply directly on a daily basis, depending on the season. The store manager knows them all personally and has visited their farms. A wide range of 150 articles is available in the detergents and cleaning materials department and in natural cosmetics.


Helsinki: good offer in specialist stores and wholefood stores
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

With only 5.4 million inhabitants and a land area only slightly less than Germany, Finland is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. Helsinki has a population of 600,000, and if the region round the capital is included the figure rises to over a million. Enough to get organic marketing up and running. However, with the market share of organic food in Finland only half what it is in Germany, it’s easy to get an overview of the country’s organic shops, stalls at weekly markets and internet shops.

In the Finnish capital, in the summer of 2013 you find ten wholefood shops, including two quite large specialist stores. Eat & Joy operates six outlets, two stores belong to Ruohonjuuri Ekomarket and there’s a shop called Ekolo. Tuusulan Oma Maa is a small vegan cooperative. Seven friends who set up Eat & Joy chose a wholly new approach. Farmers belong to producer organizations, so that the company has to place orders with “only“ 50 suppliers. The producers deliver direct to the shop, although recently they have sometimes made use of Hella Logistics, that belongs to Finland’s postal service.

Eat & Joy started so successfully, in 2011. Two more stores were opened in different parts of Helsinki’s airport in 2011, bringing Eat & Joy’s tally of shops to six. Most of what has to be imported comes from the British company Suma. 900 articles stocked by Eat & Joy, about half come from organic agriculture. Before they are listed as suppliers, all farmers are visited. The company only accepts those farmers who can demonstrate environmental practices, animal welfare, artisan processing or Fairtrade production. The main criterion is, however, the unadulterated taste of products that must be to the liking of customers. “In many cases that means Demeter or other organic products,“ says Charlie Wong, who is responsible for the company’s small volume of imports. 90 % of their products are sourced from Finnish producers.

“We celebrated our thirtieth anniversary last year,” says Sirkku Pilvi, the manager of the biggest of the four Ruohonjuuri stores (see picture). The name means something like grass roots. Two of the stores are in Helsinki and, since 2003, one has been operating in Tampere. The stores get their goods from about 50 suppliers, who operate differently from in Germany, where wholefood wholesalers combine supplies by bundling the goods streams. Since Finland itself produces only a small volume of goods, a lot have to be imported, and you see many German organic brands in the shops. If the goods don’t come direct from German wholesalers, however, the products become more expensive, because they are handled by various middlemen and importers.

Wales: Organics may no longer be seen as luxury purchase
Source: Organic Center Wales  

A recent survey of Welsh shoppers, commissioned by the Organic Centre Wales, found that the trend towards shoppers who never buy organic food coming predominantly from lower “social grades” appears to have changed. A Study was conducted in 2010, more than three quarters (76%) of respondents that never bought organic food were classified within the lower social grades, but in 2013 this figure dropped to nearly half (54%).

the study also highlighted the need for greater education about organic food and farming if shoppers are to buy more organic products more regularly. Of the 702 shoppers interviewed, almost half (43%) revealed that they do not know enough about organic to justify paying any extra for it, while more than half (57%) of non-buyers listed price amongst the main barriers to choosing organic. Both statistics were almost identical to the findings in the 2010 survey.

Morocco: Symposium on organics and the Mediterranean
Source: Agadir 2013  

The symposium will take stock of the current status on research and development, and re-launch the debate on the achievements, constraints and future challenges for the organic sector in the Mediterranean.

progress in certifying typical products through labels and trademarks will be reviewed and future challenges will be identified. Multiple labelling will be discussed at the forum too. The symposium aims to develop a platform for dialogue and exchange between researchers, scientists and policy makers on organic products. It is aimed at expanding exchange beyond the agronomic and economic aspects to include the relation of diets, organic farming, products of origin and the Mediterranean identity.

India: Organic taking root in the cities
Author: Nina Osswald  

Until a few years ago, organic produce from India mostly went into export markets such as Europe and the US. It is only more recently that sales figures in the domestic market have started to surpass exports. Along with this growth, the domestic market has become more diversified. While some big organic export companies have started to diversify into domestic sales and are opening their new retail chain. In addtion, there are also many new marketing initiatives that focus exclusively on local and regional markets.

The main reasons for this growth are a growing awareness of the dangers of pesticide residues in food and growing disposable incomes of the urban middle classes. The growth rates that are reported by organic retailers are impressive, ranging up to 300 % at times. Most stores in India sell only packaged, dry organic food products. Organic fresh produce - fruits and vegetables - is not as readily available, because many retailers avoid the risks of selling these highly perishable products under uncertain market conditions. Organic producers in India lack access to separate facilities for transport, storage and processing of organic produce.

Finnish manufacturer supplies ten countries with organic starch
Author: Kai Kreuzer  

Potato starch from organic agriculture, that is used by the organic sector, frequently comes from Finland. Starch derived from potatoes is a common ingredient too in ready and instant meals, as well as in sweets.

One of the eight suppliers of organic potatoes - located in a radius up to 250 km - is the prison Satakunnan vankila.

The characteristics of potato starch, sometimes called potato flour: the oval starch granules, of which there are several in the cells of the tubers, range from 5 to 100 micrometres in size. They are two to three times bigger than the granules of starch in grain, maize and tapioca. Between the starch granules is the potato juice, all enclosed in the cell walls.

The processing is simple and follows the same process house-wives have used for hundreds of years: after the potatoes have been thoroughly washed, they are grated. The resulting mash is passed through a sieve, and this process squeezes out the liquid containing the starch and leaves the pulp. The next stage is separating the juice and the starch with a hydro-cyclone separator. The potato starch is washed and dried. The whole process involves only mechanical treatment and heating.

In contrast to maize and grain starch, that have an opaque appearance and grainy taste, potato starch is transparent and tasteless. "In its ability to bind water, potato starch is superior to all other starches. Potato starch is the best water binding choice for processed meat products - and even vegetarian ready meals. Protein releases water when heated and potato starch binds water at the same rate - it is a perfect match. Moreover, it's taste - neutral and not like other varieties of starch that have their own particular taste.

New York: Vegetables grown on the roof
Source: Whole Foods  

Whole Foods Market has announced that the first commercial-scale greenhouse farm operating within a grocery space. Gotham Greens is its operating partner in the venture to construct a 20,000-square-foot (close to 2000 m²) greenhouse on the roof of a Whole Foods store in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The greenhouse is scheduled to open later this year.

A 15,000-square-foot (1400 m²) greenhouse farm atop a two-story warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The specially designed rooftop farm will include advanced irrigation systems that use up to 20 times less water than conventional farming as well as enhanced glazing materials and electrical equipment to reduce overall energy demand.

Italy: Alce Nero – Berberè Light Pizza & Food opened
Source: Alce Nero - Berberè  

On 9 September 2013, the new restaurant, pizzeria and shop Alce Nero - Berberè Light Pizza & Food was opened in the centre of Bologna. Its focus is on quality, creativity and organic – a slow approach to food that combines the creativity of Berberè with the use of selected Alce Nero ingredients.

Pizza is offered, made with stone ground flour, natural sourdough or hydrolysis of starch, which guarantees a high digestibility. Toppings are made with seasonal ingredients.

Organic Harvest Markets in Denmark
Source: Organic Denmark  

The Organic Harvest Markets took place all over Denmark for the 20th time. About 80 organic farms across the country opened their doors on 31 August and 1 September, and 60,000 Danes experienced farming on-site, tasted food, visited farm shops or went on a field walk with the farmer. Children were also welcome - they indulged in straw castles, baked bread over the fire, were driven by carriages and got close to organic pigs, horses, lambs and calves. (Picture: Organic Harvest Market at Troldgaarden)

More than a million guests have celebrated the harvest of the summer breeding and crops on organic farms since the Organic Harvest Markets took place for the first time in 1993. "It's really nice to see that so many Danes defy rain and wind and support ecology when the organic farmers invite them", says Per Kolster, President of Organic Denmark. The Organic Harvest Market completed the Organic Week, which had started on 26 August. Various events took place on farms as well as in cities throughout the country as a tribute to Danish ecology.





home | living well with organics | SA organic directory | organic forum | organic certification | news and reviews
| our business | list with us | useful links | suggestions | contact us | copyright and disclamer