Irish organic sector eyeing €17bn French and German markets
Export opportunities identified as sector expands
The German and French organic markets - worth a combined €17bn - are being targeted as opportunities for Irish producers as the sector continues to grow in the country.
Speaking at the National Organic Food awards, Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, stressed that continued growth is "normalising the purchase of organic food for consumers" and said that there was plenty of scope for further expansion, both at home and abroad, as demand increases.
She identified the strong EU organic market, particularly the German (valued at €10bn) and French (€7bn), as opportunities.
Repeatedly highlighted in this column is the fact that the global and EU organic markets have been in double-digit growth for the last few years.
For many large retailers, organic has been one of the few grocery categories in sustained growth.
With Brexit looming there is much uncertainty for the Irish food industry. The organic trade between the UK and Ireland is important, and at present there is no clear understanding of how the organic certification system will work between the UK and the EU in terms of equivalency recognition.
With sales in the domestic market continuing to grow, producers shortlisted in the award are on top of their game and are actively responding to market demand.
The awards, at the Bord Bia headquarters in Dublin, were well subscribed, showing the continued development and innovation in the relatively small sector here.
The Budget, announced the previous day, confirmed funding to €11m for the existing participants in the Organic Farming Scheme, to which 1,700 farmers are signed up.
An additional €1.2m is provided for the Development of the organic sector.
Minister Andrew Doyle said at the awards: "This €12.2m is evidence of the Government's commitment to this important sector.
"In addition it will enable further development across the sector in areas such as marketing, promotion and public awareness.
"The sector has huge growth potential in Ireland but we have to be focused on how we drive it forward. There are good economic opportunities for farmers and producers in this sustainable system of farming."
The Organic Sector Strategy Group in Ireland is working on a strategy for the development of the sector to 2025 and one issue that merits attention is supply.
With global growth projected to hit €224bn by 2022, the supply chain, already under pressure, will have to expand to meet growing demand, and there certainly is a place for Irish organic products in that mature marketplace.
Grace Maher is development officer with the Irish Organic Association, email@example.com
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