Divisions in German organic food market investigated

Related tags Organic food

A paper published this week by UK market analysts, Organic Monitor,
reveals the current divisions in the German organic food industry.

The German organic food industry appears to be taking the lead in Europe with Renate Künaste, the agricultural minister, pushing for changes in agricultural policy at home and in Europe.

The German organic food industry however is one of the most divided in Europe and this could restrict the success of the new state logo, the Bio-Siegel, the paper continues.

There are many divisions in the German organic food industry, most of all at the association and organic logo level. There are nine major organic farming associations with the largest two, Bioland and Demeter, leaving the umbrella organisation, ArbeitsGemeinschaft ökologischer Landbau (AGöL), earlier this year.

A distinct characteristic of the German organic food industry is the high number of organic logos and symbols in the marketplace. There are over 200 different logos and symbols for organic foods, which are provided by manufacturers, certifiers, producer associations, and retailers. This confuses consumers who are unable to differentiate between different logos and symbols.

Recognising the need for uniformity, the German government launched a state logo for organic foods, the Bio-Siegel, in September 2001. The aim of the Bio-Siegel is to clearly distinguish organic foods from conventional foods in the marketplace.

The Bio-Siegel will be present on all organic foods that are produced according to EU regulations and it will not be limited to German products. The launch of the Bio-Siegel has received a warm reception by industry participants, many of which were opposed to the previous common organic logo, the Oeko-Pruefzeichen.

The warm welcome to the Bio-Siegel is largely due to it not being seen as a threat to existing logos and symbols and it being state sponsored. It is to be used in conjunction with existing logos and symbols and it will not replace them.

Organic Monitor believes the success of the Bio-Siegel will be mainly confined to the supermarkets and not the specialist retailers where most organic food sales occur.

The Bio-Siegel is likely to be redundant in the specialist retailers since organic foods are not sold alongside conventional foods in these sales outlets and it will not replace any of the existing logos & symbols. Furthermore, existing brands like Demeter and Bioland are well established in these retailers with the organic production standards of these products being more stringent than EU Regulations, the prerequisite for the Bio-Siegel.

The Bio-Siegel is to have the largest impact in the supermarkets where it will clearly distinguish organic foods from non-organic foods on store shelves. With the supermarkets only accounting for a small share of organic food sales in 2001, it appears likely that it will be most effective in enticing new consumers rather than serving the existing consumer base.

More Information on the Bio-Siegel can be obtained from www.bio-siegel.de

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