According to industry information, reluctance to buy more expensive food in the high inflation is slowing down a faster change to more organic agriculture. Farmers' President Joachim Rukwied told the German Press Agency: "At the moment, considerations of switching to organic farming are cautious."
Health food stores and others that market high-quality organic products suffered from a massive drop in sales. "At the moment, the organic trend is clearly towards the discount sector. Of course, farmers are observing this and are therefore a little more cautious with regard to a changeover."
Organic production significantly more expensive
Rukwied said the same applies to organic as to so-called animal welfare products: "The expenses are simply higher, and that has to be reflected in the price." In organic farming, for example, the proportion of mechanical tillage is higher. "The high fuel costs for vehicles also have an even greater impact." In this respect, from today's point of view, a price gap is still needed, because the production of ecological products is significantly more expensive in terms of unit costs.
The organic food business suffered an unusual setback last year. "The German organic market shrank in 2022 for the first time in its history," said a market report by the farmers' association at the turn of the year. By the end of October, organic sales had fallen by 4.1 percent. Nevertheless, sales of 15 billion were expected for 2002, which is still 2.7 billion euros more than in 2019. The organic market was therefore able to at least maintain the high sales growth from the early days of the corona pandemic.
More eco-areas planned by 2030
The federal government is counting on a further significant expansion of organic farming. The declared goal is an organic area share of 30 percent by 2030. According to the latest data, the organic share of the total agricultural area rose to 10.9 percent in 2021 - at the end of 2020 it was still 10.3 percent. According to this, 14 percent of all farms are now organic, compared to 13.5 percent in 2020.
Organic and other trends such as more plant-based nutrition and less meat are also topics at the Green Week trade fair, which opens again this Friday in Berlin after a two-year Corona break. Rukwied said: "Production always follows the market. We see a trend towards a higher proportion of vegetarian or vegan nutrition. And of course we try to serve that too."
One example is chickpeas, which did not exist in German fields a few years ago. "Now they are grown in different regions with suitable climates, even if the risk of cultivation is high - it doesn't really work in a wet summer," explained the farmer president.