If you ask an average consumer if he or she wants to eat organic, 52% say yes. At the same time, 56% of consumers do not know the difference between organic and non-organic products. This is apparent from research by the Future of Food Institute, commissioned by Bionext.
Consumers generally find organic products expensive. About 45% of Dutch consumers say they are willing to pay 10% more for organic products. If those organic products are more than 20% more expensive than non-organic products, the willingness to buy drops to 35%. “As long as we don’t explain what biological stands for, nothing will change,” say Michaël Wilde, director of Bionext. “This research confirms that we as a sector need to communicate even better and more often what organic is. As a whole chain, we will have to work to include consumers in the added value of organic.”
In the study, 500 consumers were explained what organic means: no chemical pesticides, no fertilizer, more space for animals. That also means more labour-intensive cultivation and a higher cost level for the farmer.
After the explanation, the willingness of consumers who said they were willing to pay 10% more for organic products rose to 75%. The most compelling argument turned out to be no chemical pesticides (43%), followed by animal welfare (27%) and no added artificial colors, fragrances and flavors (26%).
Last year, a study by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) showed that the Netherlands is lagging behind in organic consumption and will continue to lag behind because consumers no longer have money for organic. Even with the 40% of consumers in the survey saying they want a wider range of organic food in their supermarket, the 15% who plan to buy a larger number of organic products in the new year and the 78% who stay organic as much as possible buy, the Netherlands will lag behind the aim of European Commissioner Frans Timmermans to increase European organic farming to 25% by 2030. The Dutch organic acreage remains at 4%, the market share at 3.2%. Within the EU, 8.1% of the agricultural area is organic. In 12 Member States, 10% of the agricultural area is organic, with Liechtenstein (also world champion with 41%) and Austria (26.1%).
The benefits of organic for the environment and climate are debatable. Organic cultivation requires approximately 20% more land use. This threatens the space that remains for nature. Since a lot of food is wasted, the disadvantage could be absorbed. However, wastage only stops with a sharp increase in food prices. That costs disposable income and therefore prosperity, things that consumers do not readily understand.
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Organic is not just more expensive – Consumers are willing to pay more for ‘better’ if they understand why – Foodlog