Organic trade advances

Demand for organic produce has been steadily growing in recent years and the trend is projected to continue apace. Much depends on better consumer awareness through information campaigns, as well as on prices, which are at high levels today, a study by business research firm ICAP says. The current difference in price between organic and conventionally grown vegetable produce varies between 20 and 100 percent, while for animal produce the gap grows to 300 percent. Market players take the view that an acceptable and realistic divergence in price should be around 20-30 percent. According to the survey, the total retail value of the Greek organic produce market in 2002 reached 18.5 million euros, up 19.4 percent from 2001. Preliminary estimates put 2003 growth at around 10 percent. Organic cultivation in Greece began with a clear orientation toward exports. Until recently, the number of retail outlets for organic products in Greece was relatively limited. A big boost came when supermarkets agreed to put them on their shelves. Further positive developments included the growth of specialized chains and street markets selling only organic. Such shops are estimated to have accounted for about 50 percent of sales in 2002, with supermarkets’ share approaching 40 percent. Olive oil, wine, citrus fruit and wheat products accounted for most of the sales. Consumption of organic olive oil grew at an annual average rate of 16.45 percent in the 1999-2002 period, of wine 53.74 percent, and of citrus fruit 108 percent. The total number of firms active in the sector, including producers, manufacturers and importers of organic produce, was 6,482.