Food: Gold, silver and bronze for the organic portion in canteens

When the midday hunger strikes, millions of people flock to canteens and canteens - in the company, in schools or day-care centers.

Food: Gold, silver and bronze for the organic portion in canteens

When the midday hunger strikes, millions of people flock to canteens and canteens - in the company, in schools or day-care centers. Currywurst and Spaghetti Bolognese are often hits. According to plans by the federal government, more regional and sustainably produced food should also be included in the range of dishes. Guests should soon be able to recognize the organic portion in the respective kitchen by a new logo, namely in the medal colors gold, silver and bronze. Food Minister Cem Özdemir is counting on a decisive boost in demand for the expansion of organic farming.

After the cabinet meeting in Berlin, the Greens politician said that community catering with 17 million guests every day had "huge potential" to provide young and old with healthy, nutritious and sustainable food - for example in retirement homes, clinics or the 244 kitchens of the Bundeswehr. Of course, it makes a big difference to make the range of dishes more regional, more seasonal and plant-based and with a higher proportion of organic products.

New logo

The draft ordinance that Özdemir submitted to the cabinet makes it easier for providers of out-of-home catering to participate in organic certification of products and ingredients. What is new is that not only the organic ingredients of a dish are labeled according to EU rules - i.e. carrots, potatoes or currywurst, explained the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft. In the future, it should also be possible to see what the overall organic proportion looks like in the canteen kitchen. With the new logo, providers could "voluntarily, simply and verifiably mark their commitment to sustainable catering and thus advertise themselves," said Özdemir.

A circular logo is to come for this. On the right you can see a knife and a fork and on the left the "organic share" in percent, based on the monetary value of the entire goods purchased by a company on average over the past twelve months. For the logo in gold it must be 90 to 100 percent organic, for silver 50 to 89 percent and for bronze 20 to 49 percent. The operators should calculate the organic share and update it monthly. Checks are also planned. The ordinance still has to go to the Bundesrat, probably in the summer.

A target of 30 percent organic area

The new regulations for canteens and the like should also boost the German organic market as a whole. Because the declared goal of the traffic light coalition is an organic area share of 30 percent by 2030. According to the latest data for 2021, it was 10.9 percent of the total agricultural area after 10.3 percent at the end of 2020. 14 percent of all farms are now organic. In order to stimulate the conversion more strongly, a larger and more reliable sales prospect for the farmers should also be created.

Despite the dampening effect of high inflation, Özdemir is building on a generally robust demand for organic products - even if organic products are usually more expensive to produce. But he made it clear that more organic food in canteens shouldn't make it so expensive that many couldn't afford it. Examples from Denmark showed that prices can be kept stable with more regional and seasonal products and a little less meat. That helps to reduce costs. The organic national association explained that so far the organic share in out-of-home catering has only been estimated at two percent. Many people who like to buy organic in the supermarket do not currently have an organic option in the canteen.

Five posture categories

The planned state animal husbandry logo for meat in supermarkets is also making progress. The Bundestag Agriculture Committee approved the draft submitted by Özdemir with changes that the coalition factions had agreed on. The mandatory labeling for domestic products should have five husbandry categories during fattening from the legal minimum standard to organic and start with fresh pork in a first step this year.

Green expert Renate Künast said that this is a key building block for clear information, fair competition and alignment with animal welfare. The law should be extended to other animal species and sales channels. The SPD specialist politician Susanne Mittag said that one could support exactly the form of husbandry that is on the pack. Union faction Vice Steffen Bilger (CDU), on the other hand, spoke of consumer deception. In this way, customers do not find out whether piglets were castrated without anesthetic before fattening abroad. In addition, only 12.5 percent more space than required by law is now sufficient for the second stage "stall plus space".