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Bucking the trend

People at the Gautier Semences stand

According to figures released by the Organic Food Production Alliance (BÖLW), in 2022 Germany’s natural food wholesalers achieved a turnover of 13 billion euros, almost nine per cent lower than in 2021 (EUR 2.34 bi.). “In France the figure was ten per cent even“, says Isabelle Lemaitre, product marketing manager for Gautier Semences, a seed grower and producer since 1952.

“During the pandemic we witnessed a 15 per cent increase, because people were cooking more at home instead of going to restaurants“, says Isabelle Lemaitre. The challenges currently facing the producers of organic products are high. Organic crop yields are often lower due to the higher risk of disease or infestation. That increases costs and as a result prices. Inflation means people are currently opting for cheaper, conventionally grown products and buying less altogether.

Many companies fail in the attempt to become organic producers

The first time Gautier Semences received organic certification was in 1998. Switching from conventional grower to organic producer took several years, says marketing director Pauline Fargier-Puech. Many companies don’t make it. “In France 30 per cent of producers who attempt the switch from conventional grower to organic producer give up“, she says.

Magdalina Wairimu, director of Mofarm Fresh Fruits in Kenya, is aware of this challenge too. “For us, the main reason for marketing organic products was that most of our customers here in Europe want organic avocados. So in 2018 we dared do it”, she says. Currently, one of her main tasks is helping farmers with their annual audit.

Organic Route expands

Despite all the challenges, both companies want to stay with organic products, and so among other things have invested in exhibiting at FRUIT LOGISTICA. Mofarm Fresh Fruits is in fact for the first time no longer represented on Kenya’s combined stand and has its own display, resulting in higher costs. “For a long time it was unclear whether Kenya would take part in the event, and we desperately wanted to be here“, says Wairimu, who was in Berlin as a trade visitor for the first time in 2014.

“It is important for Gautier Semences to be here. It is an opportunity to increase the company’s exposure, meet our international customers from Mexico, Canada and China, as well as new people“, says Pauline Fargier-Puech.

Both Gautier Semences and Mofarm Fresh Fruits can be found on the Organic Route, where trade visitors can specifically target exhibitors marketing certified organic products. 211 exhibitors are represented there this year, ten per cent more than in 2022, a positive trend that gives cause for hope.