Slovak Republic: Organic Food Retailers Lack an Adequate Product Range
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
While four years ago only a few health/natural food shops existed in Slovakia, today there are more than forty such shops, and about one third of them more or less specialize in organic food. Most of them are situated in the relatively large cities in western Slovakia, mainly in Bratislava and Trencin. The organic food range of these "bio-shops" constitutes 20 - 50 % of their total stock and is limited mainly by the lack of organic products on the market. That is why some shops themselves bring organic products from abroad, especially from the Czech Republic.
Picture: Produce of Apple Orchard Sad Livia
The situation could be improved if retailers started to cooperate and put organized pressure on wholesalers. Another shortcoming in the organic retail trade is the inadequate qualifications of managers and shop assistants. They have only a limited knowledge of organic farming or specifics related to organic food. When asked what would improve their situation, the majority of shop managers only stress the need for a bigger range of goods of organic quality. At present, most fresh organic products, like milk, milk products, bread and bakery products, meat and meat products, vegetables and fruits are simply not available.
Of the supermarkets, only Coop and Tesco offer organic food. The selection is limited to various flours, pasta, teas and buckwheat. The largest supplier is Ekotrend Myjava, who also supplies the stores with a special “organic shelf". It is estimated that the multiples account for 30 percent of the organic turnover, while the specialist shops have about a 60 % share; the rest is sold directly on farms.
The Most Important Organic Food Retailers:
Bio-shop “U malého princa” (At Little Prince) is a small shop (picture) on the main square in Trenčín, the third largest city in Slovakia. It was opened two years ago and today it is among the most progressive organic shops, thanks mainly to the work of its owner, Klaudia Medalova, who was also active in establishing a Slovak Organic Retailers' Association.
The shop has a sales area of 44 m² and offers daily fresh organic bread and bakery products, fresh soy products, fresh vegetables, apples and dairy products (only to order, delivered once a month from local farmers). It also offers macrobiotic food, gluten-free products, Fair-Trade products, natural cosmetics, books and magazines, and gifts. About 45 % of the stock is organic. The shop is situated on the second floor, so only the windows can be seen from outside. The shop is nicely furnished, with flowers and natural decorations. Everything is made of wood: the floor, the shelves etc. Weleda cosmetics are presented in a glass display case. Except for bakery products, it is a self-service shop. Among the major suppliers are Ekotrend Myjava, Natura Bioplus and Planeta Food, but the shop owners themselves also regularly get deliveries, mainly from the Czech Republic and Hungary.
As Richard Medal, the co-owner, says: “We want to offer our customers a wide range of high quality products for a healthy lifestyle and to educate them about the advantages of organic farming and its products. We would like to broaden and deepen our cooperation with organic farmers, helping them with sales and stimulating the processing of a variety of organic products which are still not available on the market in Slovakia. We need to offer more fresh products on a regular basis”.
Planeta Food (picture) is a shop situated in a busy shopping street next to a major crossroads in the centre of the capital Bratislava. Planeta Food attracts customers with a “holistic” approach:it offers cooking classes, healthy lifestyle lectures and massages. The shop was opened late in 2003 and has a sales area of 40 m². Besides staple organic food, it offers goat cheese, baby food, sweets and chocolate, vegetable and fruit juices, wine, food for macrobiotics, gluten-free foods, books and other goods for a macrobiotic lifestyle. About 50 % of the products are organic. The major suppliers are Country Life and Sunfood from The Czech republic and Ekotrend Myjava.
The shop is on the first floor and therefore without a shop-window. It is attractively fitted out, with most furniture and shelves made of wood,although some shelves are metal. “For the future, we are planning further developments towards increasing our provision of high quality products. We are also planning to open another shop,” says Peter Planieta, the shop owner.
Biobio is a brand new organic shop located in a big Bratislava shopping mall called Aupark (picture). This is very important for the future development of the Slovak organic market, since for the first time in Slovakia consumers who like to buy brand-name organic products are catered for. In this way, organic food is no longer an attraction just for people interested in a healthy lifestyle or nature conservation but is also for people who belong to the group of opinion-makers in society. The shopping mall Aupark is situated near the Bratislava city centre and, in addition to shopping facilities, there are cultural and recreational facilities. The shop has a sales area of 70 m² and ten employees. Biobio provides fresh wholegrain bread and bakery products, fresh vegetables and fruit, goat cheese and soy products and a good selection of basic food categories. The percentage of organic products on offer is about 30 %. The major suppliers are Ekotrend Myjava and Vega Provita, the regional wholesaler from the east of the Czech Republic. “Our goal is to increase the proportion of organic food, especially of fresh vegetables and fruit. We would like to open a bakery and restaurant," says Mrs. Gramerová of Biobio.
Bio-shop “U malého princa” (At Little Prince)
Mierové námestie 29
SK 911 01 Trenčín
SK 811 05 Bratislava
Aupark, Einsteinova 18
Sk 851 01 Bratislava