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Review of the Year 2015: Events, Developments, Trends and Numbers

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It’s been a good year for the organic industry: the turnover of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in Germany, on the European and international markets has grown continually. The area of organically farmed land and the number of organic farms have increased slightly in this Year of the Soil. Look back with us over the organic year in our review! There are many more themes available to you in our Archive, at BioMarkt.Info and on YouTube  and Twitter.


Consumers in the Coop Future Supermarket at Expo in Milan, Italy
Consumers in the Coop Future Supermarket at Expo in Milan, Italy. Photo © Karin Heinze
The German market

In 2014 we could already see a continuation of stable growth in the wholefood trade. At BioFach 2015, the Organic Market Working Group (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung GfK, Nielsen, BioVista, Klaus Braun Kommunikationsberatung) announced the results of the data evaluation for 2014. The specialist trade experienced growth of 9.6 % (from €2.4bn to €2.74bn) and increased its share of organic turnover from 32 % to 33 %. In 2014, the total turnover of organic food and drink in the retail trade in Germany rose from €7.55bn to €7.91bn. From the fourth quarter of 2014 to the end of the third quarter of 2015 the German specialist wholefood trade achieved very positive results. For more than 12 months in succession, businesses taking part in the organic trade turnover barometer operated by the consultancy Kommunikationsberatung Klaus Braun registered average growth in daily turnover of more than 10%. Also see our report from BioFach 2015 Organic growth continues on the global level.

BioFach 2015 press conference: the numbers of the year 2014. Photo © Karin Heinze

German wholesale and retail trade reports very good turnover

In 2014/2015, the leading companies in the sector Alnatura, Dennree and Weiling again recorded growth rates above the market average. Thus Alnatura announced growth of 10 % to €760m for the financial year ending in September. The retail segment of the company expanded the tally of their SuperNaturMarkt stores to 98. Business with the Alnatura brand was boosted by virtue of the new partnership with Edeka, the chains Coop Kiel (Sky-Markt stores), in Austria the MPreis outlets in Tyrol, the Merkur consumer markets and the Billa stores.  Online sales were expanded, which in the medium term could compensate for the delisting at dm.

Wholesaler WeilingFor the financial year 2014, Dennree reported growth in turnmover of 14 % to €710m. Alongside the wholesale business, this growth was down to the161 stores in Germany - 22 new denn’s Biomarkt stores were launched – and the company’s outlets in Austria (17 in 2014).  In the summer of 2015, the company domiciled in Töpen announced its acquisition of the 4,000 hectare family business in the vicinity - Agrofarm Eichigt (owned by several families). The 18 shareholders are going to convert the farms to organic production.

In an interview with Bernd Weiling (wholesaler Weiling) says how pleased he is with growth of 10.6 % to €178m. In the first six months of their 40th anniversary year they have already reached turnover of €100m. Their in-house trade fair in Coesfeld was a venue where the whole industry gathered and the visitors were also able to see the progress being made in the construction of the new warehouse.

Wholesaler Weiling is busy with the construction of a new storage and logistic center. Photo Karin Heinze

European markets on the rise
Statistics: growth of the organic market in France
Statistics: growth of the organic market in France. Graphic Agence Bio

Continuing sound demand for organics has also benefited other countries in Europe. In 2014, France, the second biggest market, registered growth of 10 % to around €5bn and substantially expanded the organic industry at the production and processing level: according to the semi-state organisation Agence Bio, in 2014 there was an increase in organically managed land of 4 % (1.1m hectares) and 3 % in the case of organic processing companies (13,000). By May 2015 over 1,600 farms had converted to organic.

New store concept in Poland.In Scandinavia there were record growth rates in 2014: as a flagship organic country Denmark already has a market share of 8 %. The highest growth rate was achieved by Sweden (picture) with a rise of 38 % - market share imcreased to 5.6 % and turnover to €1.6bn. Norway is still a small market but one that is developing well.

Supply and demand are also growing in Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and many other European countries. At we present new and successful old retail concepts and trends in Belgium (Biocap), Norway, France and Poland. A concise summary of the European markets can be accessed here. Find more articles on Europe and internationale market in our Archive.

New store concept in Poland. Photo Kai Kreuzer

Overseas markets are developing well
Whole Foods Market in Washington D.C.
Whole Foods Market in Washington D.C. Photo Karin Heinze

US market experiences double-digit growth

According to the data supplied by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the American organic market is continuing its very dynamic trajectory: in 2014, turnover of certified organic products rose by 11 % to US$35.9bn (ca. €29.5bn). This equates to a share of almost 5 % of the total food market. Global organic turnover is heading for the 80 billion mark. More about the American market can be found here.


Nicaragua und Sri Lanka

Organic markets are developing all over the world. Exclusive reports on special projects and market development overseas are available for you to read or see on video.

Nicaragua and other Central American states are known for organic and fair trade coffee. The issues dealt with at a three-day conference in Managua, that was organised by the German Mittelamerikanische Kaffee Im- und Export GmbH - abbreviated to Mitka - ranged from working conditions and fair prices to the impact of climate change. More about Latin America can be found here.

In the video, representatives of the coffee cooperatives in Central America talk about these issues.

The activities of so-called sustainability initiatives like UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance have shown themselves to be problematic for the development of organic agriculture in Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s embryonic eco development La Finca Esperanzita is putting up a fight against them. Ola Verde in Managua is a ray of hope: an initiative for healthy nutrition with an organic restaurant and shop.


In contrast, Sri Lanka is a favourite procurement country for coconut products and exotic fruit: the firm Egesun, the Morgenland brand,has long since been focusing on its own raw materials projects. The firm Tropical Health Food has been founded in Sri Lanka, and Egesun also cooperates closely with the manufacturers of coconut products. More articles about Sri Lanka and a natural & organic cosmetic firm, AfricaAsia and Australia can be found in our archive.


Natural and organic cosmetics remain the driver of growth in the overall market
Panel of experts on the Natural & Organic Cosmetics Conference
Panel of experts on the Natural & Organic Cosmetics Conference. Photo Karin Heinze

At the eighth Natural & Organic Cosmetics Conference at the beginning of October in Berlin industry experts were agreed that in 2015 controlled natural and organic cosmetics would continue to expand within the overall natural cosmetics market. Double-digit growth is anticipated. In 2014, around 13 % of German consumers covered their need for cosmetics and toiletries with natural and organic cosmetics, thereby contributing to turnover of more than a billion euros. Vegan is not only a trend in food but also in cosmetics. A study provides information on this phenomenon.  You can read how the markets for natural and organic cosmetics are developing internationally in the interview with Moritz Aebersold. Interesting for organic & natural cosmetics insiders may also be the Halal trend.

In Paris two important conferences about organic & natural cosmetics and eco detergents took place. You can see  organizer Amarjit Sahota in the video interview.


There’s still great emphasis on vegan products, superfoods, free from and animal welfare
Animal welfare is one of the top issues in the organic sector
Animal welfare is one of the top issues in the organic sector. 013_Rinderhaltung_ts_c_OekolandbauDE.jpg

At BioFach and various other international trade fairs it was clear that the vegan, free from and superfood trends are continuing. According to the market research instituteYouGov, there are approximately 900,000 people in Germany with a vegan diet – which presents the specialist whole food trade with new challenges. Animal welfare is similarly an important issue for the organic sector. As well as various producers’ initiatives like Bruderhahn, the associations Bioland and Demeter have united and founded the company Ökologische Tierzucht GmbH (ÖTZ). For the first time on a large scale, its aim is to ensure poultry rearing geared to organic agriculture in order to make organic egg production and poultry fattening less dependent on multinational companies. An EU research project focusing in a study on animal welfare established that there is still need for improvement. 

A great stir was caused by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) classification of processed meat as potentially carcinogenic. The experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC, that belongs to the WHO, informed us that for every 50 grams increase in daily consumption the risk rises by18 %. The muscle meat of all common domesticated animals is classified by the IARC as "probably carcinogenic". Organic manufacturers are not expecting any great losses to occur.

Year of the Soil and a positive trend to conversion
Celebrating Soil guerilla activity
Celebrating Soil guerilla activity. Photo Karin Heinze

The international Year of the Soil was taken by organic associations and organic companies as an opportunity to point to the fact that fertile soil is permanently being lost. According to the experts, the figure is 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil a year, which translates into an economic loss of €1.5trn. If soil degradation continues at this rate, agriculture will no longer be possible in 60 years time. This was the message at the Celebrating Soil Conference, that was organised at the end of June by the Dutch organic company Eosta in Amsterdam.

The online campaign "ich mag bio" attracted a great deal of attention – ”I like organic” and the statements of many international celebrities said soil loss ought to be stopped to ensure we can feed the world and slow down climate change. Save Our Soils funds aim to support the fight against soil loss.

With the same aim, the European initiative People4Soil by the Italian environmental organisation Legambiente has launched a free, open network of European NGOs, research institutes, farmer associations and environmental protection groups. A large-scale petition will urge the EU to issue guidelines on soil protection. The petition will be launched in January 2016.

A pleasing trend in this context is the fact that "conversiion to organic" is clearly becoming more attractive again. For a long time, the development of organic land has not kept pace with the growth in demand. A turning point came in 2015. 

Two out of many important events in the organic world

We are fed up! At the beginning of the year, on the occasion of the  "Wir haben es satt" - "We've had enough" demo in Berlin, around 50,000 people stated their case powerfully and impressively against agroindustry, factory farming, genetic engineering, TTIP and dumping prices. The organisers of the event said that the themes TTIP and Ceta in particular meant that more people took part than expected.

The fact that the transatlantic trade agreement (TTIP) of the EU with the USA and Canada was of great concern to the people was by late October abundantly clear. Once again in the capital, several hundred thousand people went onto the streets under the motto "Stop TTIP and Ceta - for fair world trade".

IFOAM EU Group: European Organic Congress in Riga, Latvia

The revision of the EU Organic Regulation was on the agenda at IFOAM EU's  9th European Organic Congress. From 11 to 13 June in Riga they discussed in great detail the compromise proposal tabled shortly before by the Latvian Council presidency. The more than 150 participants included EU Commission members, representatives of the Latvian presidency and national ministries of agriculture and actors in organic companies and associations. They exchanged views on how the political framework conditions could be used for green growth. And they also drafted strategies for a future in which organic agriculture and organic products would play a much bigger role across the whole of Europe than they do today.

Christopher Stopes President of IFOAM EU Group in a video interview


Kurt Sannen, explained his view of the future of the organic sector and how farmers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, members of associations and all other active members of the organic industry can help to it develop further: "We have to believe into the organic movement and make the visions of IFOAM EU Group happen it. Otherwise there is a risk that the organic sector will disappear", he said. 


All videos © Karin Heinze.

There are many more themes available to you in our Archive, at BioMarkt.Info and on YouTube  and Twitter.


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