French people still consume more bio, but beware of the shortage

In ten years, products from organic farming have become almost essential to French consumers, according to the Agence Bio / CSA barometer. A success that reveals a change in mentalities, but that could have negative consequences for a flourishing industry.

France “green” is running. With nearly half a billion euros more spent compared to the same period in 2016, the appetite of French for organic products has clearly confirmed in the first half of 2017, according to the figures of the Bio Agency , the national information and action platform for French organic agriculture.

A flourishing market that owes its success partly thanks to the new French “organic” producers, but also to the ever-growing processors and distributors – nearly 51,500 farms and companies engaged in “organic” as of June 30, 2017, or 4,340 more operators by compared to last year.

In 2016, the French “organic” industry – also including catering – would have already exceeded the value of 7 billion euros. Sales of fresh produce, which rose 14% over the first six months of the year according to the Agence Bio / CSA barometer, were helped by growth at the rendezvous. The good results of “organic” rays in supermarkets, which recorded an increase of 18% of their turnover over the period, thus bring positive results and revealing a change of mentality in the French population.

82% of French consider it important to develop “organic” agriculture
Because today, “organic” products are everywhere and concern almost everyone. According to Agence Bio, nearly 9 out of 10 French people say they have consumed “bio” at least once in 2016, and 69% also say they regularly consume “bio” (at least once a year). And the gap recorded in 2003 during the first edition of the barometer shows a real change in mentalities: 46% of French never consumed organic products then.

Ten years ago, 67% of the French population attached importance to the preservation of the environment in their purchasing, against 89% in 2015 and now 92% in 2017. Today, they are also 82% give importance to the development of organic farming. Figures that highlight the new expectations of the French for agriculture of the future, based on respect for the environment and animal welfare, even if the bio is far from being a guarantee in this area, as underlined recently Release in an article on animal suffering in the organic meat sector.

Solutions to protect against shortages and price increases
The barometer of Agence Bio appears even as since July 20, the General States of food were launched by the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Their main objective is to promote the creation and distribution of “organic” actors in France, but also to make accessible to all “healthy, safe and sustainable” food. Because the success of “bio” in France has important consequences: on some products, such as meat, eggs, wine and milk, stockouts are regular and shortages very close. And with adverse weather this year, dairy and vegetable yields have been slightly imbalanced.

Eager to promote this movement by making “bio” “more accessible”, the Minister of ecological and solidarity transition Nicolas Hulot sharply criticized a few days ago the large margins of distributors, after the publication of a UFC-Que study to choose. These practices would tend to drive up prices, as well as lack of supply and occasional outages. Several avenues should be explored during the Estates General of Food in order to remedy this imbalance, such as sustaining financial support for conversion, or encourage private financing tools for organic farming, such as the Livret de Sustainable development. What else to increase the percentage of “bio made in France”: 71% of organic products consumed in France are already produced on the national territory.

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