Organics is still a niche
market in France in terms of value, representing only 0.5
percent of total retail food sales compared to other EU
countries such as Denmark where the share is 3 percent.
However, the market has been growing at a rate of 12
percent per year, and that rate is expected to reach 20
percent per year in the future. In 1998, sales of organic
food products in France were estimated at $700 million.
Growing demand, coupled with a government initiative to
stimulate domestic production and improve distribution,
is expected to boost organic food sales to $2.6 billion
by the year 2003.
The range of organic foods
available in France is still relatively limited. Major
domestically produced organic products include grains,
prepared cereals, dairy products, fresh and processed
fruit and vegetables, baby foods, meat and poultry.
Nearly half of the organic food is sold through
supermarket chains, whereas the rest is sold through
health food stores, direct sales and open air organic
foods markets. Retail prices for organic products average
25-35 percent higher than conventional foods.
Consumers of organic
products fall into three main categories; the politically/ideologically
motivated who are concerned about the environment,
and animal rights; the health conscious; and the switchers
who are easily swayed by the media and influenced by
price and availability. About half of consumers of
organic food are managers or self-employed professionals
between the ages of 25 and 49.
In 1998, organic imports
were valued at $50 million. The main organic imports
included fruit juices, dried fruit, exotic fruit, cereal
bars, mueslies, and processed, new-to-market products
such as ready-to-eat frozen foods and vegetarian meals.
Germany and the Scandinavian countries were the
predominant sources, although 40 percent of the imports
came from non-European countries.
Best prospects for U.S.
suppliers interested in the French market include exotic
fruits, nuts, honey, milk, grain for animal feed, and
processed products that are uniquely American. Growth in
the processing sector presents opportunities for
ingredient suppliers, particularly for grains, almonds,
pistachios, dried fruits, tropical fruit and milk,
although currently, most organic ingredients come from
other EU countries.
International dietetic/health/organic trade show DIETEXPO/FILABIO
99 was held in Paris on October 16-18. More
than 11,000 visitors from 80 countries attended, and over
400 producers, processors, wholesalers and importers,
including 80 exhibitors from 16 foreign countries,
displayed their diet, health and organic products. New
organic products seen this year at the show included
ready-to-eat items such as salads, leek and mushroom
tarts, and fresh vegetarian or meat dishes.
For the second year,
FASs Paris office helped coordinate participation
of American companies in a USA Pavilion. Fourteen
companies participated, including three that exhibited
organic cereal products and tea. U.S. participants
indicated that they expected a total of $2 million in
sales as a direct result of the show. The DIETEXPO
press office showed interest in the American products,
and interviewed both the Paris AgCounselor and the U.S.
representative of the National Nutritional Foods
Association for the shows daily newspaper.
FASs Paris office
notes that opportunities for U.S. organic products in
France show much promise, and would like to encourage
more U.S. organic food manufacturers and exporters to
participate in next years show.
Organics at USDAs
Agricultural Outlook Forum 2000
Several organic sessions are
scheduled for USDAs Agricultural Outlook Forum 2000
to be held February 24 and 25, 2000, in Arlington,
Virginia. Planning is still underway but an outline of
the sessions is available now at the forum web site (www.usda.gov/oce/waob/agforum.htm). On Friday, February 25,
"Organics: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" will
be the topic at the Fruit and Vegetable Luncheon. That
afternoon, a session entitled "The Changing Market
for Organic Foods" will cover consumer demand,
organic retailing and venture capital in organic
marketing. Other topics of interest during the conference
include biotechnology, WTO, global marketing and
More than 200 U.S. organic
seed farmers are growing 800 breeding lines of
traditional crop plants provided by the National Plant
Germplasm System (NPGS), which is maintained by
USDAs Agricultural Research Service. The objectives
of the Oregon-based Farmer Cooperative Genome Project are
to increase the diversity of crop seeds available to
farmers and gardeners, teach organic farmers how to
regenerate seed, and eventually provide the NPGS with
additional seeds and data. Among the many crops being
grown are amaranth, pears and garlic. The project began
in 1998 under a USDA Fund for Rural America grant, and is
coordinated by J.J. Haapala of Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit
organization that advocates sustainable agriculture and
provides organic certification services.
information, contact Janise Zygmont (analysis) at
202-720-1176 or Kelly Strzelecki (marketing) at