In the past two decades, organic agriculture in the EU has developed very rapidly. In the early 1980s, due to the growing concern of consumers for health and nutrition and their increasing awareness of environmental protection, the organic food market in northern European countries began to develop. Subsequently, the involvement of the news media, the development of environmental protection activities and the successive occurrence of food scandals prompted people to seek pollution-free food, further stimulating the demand for organic food. The EU has become the largest organic food consumer market in the world. Among them, the consumption value of organic food in Germany accounts for more than half of the value of organic food produced or imported in Europe, followed by Denmark (17.4%) and Austria (11.5%). The per capita consumption of organic food in these two countries is significantly higher than that in other countries, accounting for 10% of the total consumption of nutritious food. In 1996, the sales value of organic food in Germany was about 2.5 billion marks, accounting for 1% of its total food sales value. By 2000, this proportion had increased to 3%, and by 2008, it had increased to 25%. At present, German baby food has basically been transformed into organic food. 30% of the bread eaten by residents in Munich is made of organic ingredients, which indicates that organic food is conquering the market of liquid food in some EU countries.
1、 Production and import of organic food in EU
According to the research results of relevant institutions, the planting area of organic agriculture has increased from 120000 hectares to 1.2 million hectares in the ten years from 1986 to 1996, with an average annual growth rate of 25%. During the same period, the number of organic farms increased from 7800 to nearly 50000. In 2000, the sales of organic food in the European Union accounted for about 3% of the total sales of food in the European Union. Organic agriculture in the northern European Union countries has become an extremely important part of the whole agriculture.
Although EU Decree No. 2078/92 (known as the Agricultural Environment Law) is binding on all EU member states, the inconsistent policies and measures adopted by each member state lead to different development speeds. The planting area of organic agriculture in Germany, Italy, Austria and Sweden has expanded rapidly. The planting area of the four countries accounted for nearly three quarters of the total planting area of organic agriculture in the European Union in 1996.
A large area of organic farming in the EU has laid the foundation for the development of organic trade. The main suppliers of the market are domestic producers, especially dairy products, vegetables, fruits and meat. Due to the climate difference, the northern EU countries need to import oranges and grains, olives, soybeans, rice, vegetables, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, dried fruits and nuts from the southern EU countries. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands export more than import. Germany, Britain and Denmark all have large import demand.
Non EU suppliers mainly include North America, Eastern Europe, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, the West Indies, Brazil and Argentina. European organic trade is working closely with companies in several North American and African countries to help them transform into organic farming. The demand for organic products is so great that European traders are constantly seeking potential sources of organic products, mainly including coffee, vegetable leaves, grains, nuts, dried fruits, oilseeds and spices.
2、 Reasons for the accelerated development of organic food market in EU
1. The EU agricultural policy encourages the conversion or maintenance of organic farming, and gives farmers corresponding subsidies. At present, almost all EU countries provide direct financial support for their farmers to encourage their organic farming methods. This measure has greatly stimulated the supply of organic food in EU countries. The Netherlands not only provides subsidies to farmers according to their planting area, but also grants funds to establish a sales system, including advisory services and promotion for consumers and producers.
2. The interest and ability of mainstream retail industry in selling organic food has become an important factor in the rapid development of the EU organic food market:
(1) Supermarkets in Denmark, Austria and the United Kingdom have started to sell organic food, and have established a good sales system to wholesale organic food to large purchasing groups. Due to the intervention of most supermarkets, consumers are more exposed to organic food and can buy organic food in places where they often shop. Supermarkets sell many kinds of goods at reasonable prices, about 30% higher than the sales value of ordinary stores.
(2) The southern EU countries began to promote the sale of organic food in the 1990s. Organic food producers and traders pay more attention to the huge potential of their products' exports to the northern EU countries. Although the local domestic market demand is relatively small, it has been increasing, especially in large cities, where the income level and education level are high, there is more consumption potential.
3、 Existing problems in the development of organic food in EU
Although the proportion of organic food sales in EU's total food sales is still increasing, the market share of organic food is still lower than that of potential consumers interested in organic food. Therefore, it needs guidance to make consumers willing to pay more for buying organic food. The main problems of organic food in EU are:
(1) Shortage of supply and poor sales channels coexist
Due to various reasons, the supply in various regions can not meet the demand, the supply of organic food in the mainstream sales channels (such as supermarkets) that consumers often visit can not be fully guaranteed, farmers can not produce the products consumers want to buy, and there are also some problems in transportation. The lack of economies of scale makes transportation costs too expensive, and the high price makes products limited to some special consumer groups. In addition, compared with encouraging the production of organic food, the marketing promotion of organic food is not paid enough attention.
(2) How to keep fresh is the key
Fresh foods, such as milk and dairy products, vegetables, fruits, bread and meat, are key products to expand the market share of organic food. In addition, organic food must be pure in taste, different in color, smell and taste from popular products. How to keep fresh is crucial. It must be handled carefully in the process of production, processing and transportation. Therefore, the transportation, production and labeling (bulk cargo) of products should be improved.
(3) Consumer confidence in the quality of organic food needs to be enhanced
Through direct marketing and organic food stores, consumers can gradually build confidence in the quality and health performance of organic food. In the mass marketing channel, consumers' confidence in organic food can only be enhanced through famous brand products, and the investment required for creating a famous brand is huge.
(4) Reasonable pricing
The pricing of organic food should be attractive to both producers and traders, and consumers are bound to compare the price of organic food with that of ordinary food. Competition will promote the rationalization of the pricing of producers, processors and intermediate dealers, thus reducing the cost of organic food.
(5) Sales channel problems
Due to the high quality requirements of organic food, special attention should be paid to each link of processing, transportation, placement and sale, which puts forward stricter requirements for small-scale distributors. The sales channel of organic food is labor-intensive, because it involves scattered producers and relatively small output products, and these products must be handled separately from ordinary products in all links, so it takes time and effort to establish a new sales channel.
4、 Countermeasures proposed by experts
Experts in the field of organic food in the European Union made various predictions on the market development trend, and proposed that organic food should be sold in the regions where it is produced. Through public publicity, the public should be aroused to make joint efforts, quickly respond to participate in competition, and should have more scientific and technological input and encourage preferential policies. At the same time, the experts suggested that the state should invest in establishing a transparent product quality monitoring system and vigorously promote it so that consumers can understand the meaning of the certification mark. We should also provide financial support related to the output value of producers' cooperatives, encourage sales related consulting services for producers, and develop sales channels.
In addition, in order to coordinate the development of organic agriculture with the solution of environmental protection problems, and prevent the occurrence of oversupply of organic food, experts proposed that the country should have a long-term unified plan.
In short, in order to improve the market situation of organic food, we should not set the product price too high, but work hard on the product quality. Market demand mainly depends on the price, convenience and quality of organic food.
To this end, organic experts from the European Union have offered the following advice to organic food producers and sellers:
① Consumers should be made more convenient to buy organic food;
② As consumers expect the price of organic food to be close to that of ordinary food and ensure the quality, reducing the consumer price can greatly increase the market demand;
③ A substantial reduction in the number of organic food brands will reduce product costs, lower prices and stimulate market demand;
④ Organic food is developing rapidly and the competition is also intensifying. Therefore, the requirements for selection from production to retail are becoming increasingly strict and more important.
⑤ The establishment of an extensive communication network can show the importance of manufacturers' associations;
⑥ Producers should improve production efficiency, significantly reduce consumer prices, and establish a practical quality assurance system;
⑦ During the establishment of the sales structure, too many associations and sales organizations are decomposed, which will become the biggest threat to the development of organic sports.