The recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon has reignited the discussion on the growing Organic movement that has been sweeping across industries worldwide. Campbell’s, one of the world’s oldest soup companies, launched an Organic Soup line in 2015.
Other F&B giants like Nestle, PepsiCo, Kraft & Kellogg have acquired smaller Organic companies to cater to the rising demand. The organic sector has outgrown inorganic food across the developed markets like North America & Europe. Meanwhile, Tesco reported that organic sales in its stores have risen by 15% in the past year. The organic sector is clearly in an explosive growth phase and promises immense opportunities.
So, what does it mean to be ‘Organic’? Organic products are made up of plant or animal ingredients that have been produced via Organic farming, that doesn’t use any synthetically chemical soil inputs as fertilizers and pesticides. There are three facets across which Organic farming trumps conventional farming:
- Environmental impact – Organic farming avoids the use of man-made fertilizers and pesticides which are detrimental to soil. Environment-friendly and sustainable practices such as crop rotation, use of natural fertilizers (plant/animal manure) and biological pest control are employed instead.
- Animal Welfare – Livestock feed additives and growth regulators are avoided. Organic farming focuses on animal welfare and prevention of ill health by using methods like free range and choosing suitable breeds of livestock.
- Human Health – Since organically farmed produce avoid the use of man-made fertilizers and pesticides, the chances of ingesting such harmful chemicals is reduced when consuming food.
INDIAN ORGANIC FOOD MARKET
India produced around 1.35 million MT (2015-16) of certified organic products which includes all varieties of food products namely Sugarcane, Oil Seeds, Cereals & Millets, Cotton, Pulses, Medicinal Plants, Tea, Fruits, Spices, Dry Fruits, Vegetables, Coffee etc.
The total volume of export during 2015-16 was 263687 MT and the organic food export realization was around 298 million USD. Organic products from India are exported majorly to the European Union, US, Canada, Switzerland, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asian countries, Middle East, South Africa. As per the available statistics, India’s rank in terms of World’s Organic Agricultural land under cultivation was 15 as of 2013 (Source: FIBL & IFOAM Year Book 2015).
According to the Indian government, organic farming was practised in 12 states in about 4.72 million hectares in 2013-2014, which increased to 5.71 million Hectares of area under organic cultivation in the year 2015-2016. India’s organic food market is projected to grow more than 25 per cent annually to touch $1.36 billion by 2020.
While the jury is still out on several other claims being made regarding organic products, there is no doubt as to whether there is a widespread Organic culture prevalent among consumers. Organic consumers are becoming increasingly mainstream & are willing to pay a premium price.
The consumers are willing to go the organic route even if it’s more expensive, because they are aware of the potential long term environmental & health benefits. Experts & various reports have confirmed healthy growth even in the non-food organic market, so much so that the industry outsells the available supply in some domestic markets.
The Necessary Shift
It’s no wonder then, that some of the largest players in the Healthcare, Animal & Sports Nutrition, Cosmetics and Food & Beverage industries are increasingly moving towards organic products. The consumer’s growing sense of ethical consumption and health awareness dictates that industries across the board have to adapt accordingly.
While the developing economies still have a ways to go before the demand for organic products matches that of the more developed countries, the trend is already visible and growing. Ultimately, this shift towards organic is a wonderful thing for everyone involved, as well as the planet, and it’s obvious that businesses and industries have to embrace it wholeheartedly as well.