The great and good of the world’s organic sector gathered in Germany last week to take the temperature of this dynamic young industry. Our organics man Bruce Hoggard reported back on the new products he discovered, the companies he talked to, and the word on the street regarding future trends in the world of organics.

Germany’s Nürnberg Messe was again home to the annual BioFach organic trade show held from 13-16 February. The show ran for four days, opening at 9am and closing at 6pm. On the Friday, the booths were open until 9pm as booths hosted parties in what is called the Long OrganicNight, a young tradition established in 2002.

Celebrating its 14th year, the show drew 2,003 exhibitors, displaying their various organic products throughout eight of the Messe’s exhibition halls. The show’s pattern of growth continued as the number of exhibitors increased by 82 from the 1,921 exhibitors who displayed in 2002. In 1990, the first year of the show, there were just 240 exhibitors.

Of the 2,003 exhibitors present this year, 66 % were international companies with the largest country representation coming from Italy with 310 exhibitors, then Spain with 172, and third, France the ‘Country of the Year,’ with 135 exhibitors.

The number of visitors to the show has also grown each year and in 2002 there were 27,787 visitors, with 32% of these international representatives. Show organisers anticipate this number will once again be met, if not exceeded. When the show first opened in 1990, it recorded an attendance of only 2,500 visitors, less than 10% of the numbers expected in 2003.

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In conjunction with the trade show, BioFach holds a Congress, which this year offered over 100 seminars and presentations of interest to the organic industry. The seminars provided current statistical data as well as information on the various regulations and market dynamics from countries around the world.

Global organic sales to reach US$25bn in 2003
The latest figures compiled by the International Trade Centre of the UNCTAD/WTO indicated worldwide organic retail sales for 2003 would reach close to US$25bn or about 2.25% of total food sales. Although growth has slowed, it is still averaging 10% worldwide with projections suggesting sales will reach US$29-31bn in 2005.

The total European organic food and beverage market is worth $10-11bn, with Germany being the largest single market at $2.8-3.1bn. Switzerland, however, at 3.2-3.7%, has the highest percentage of organic food and beverage sales as a percentage of total food and beverage sales. The growth of organic food and beverages in Europe is slowing and is, in many countries, expected to be between 5-10%. Ireland and the UK however are bright spots as these countries are expected to grow between 10-20% for 2003 through 2005.

The North American markets of the United States and Canada are expecting 2003 retail sales of organic food and beverages to be $11-13bn and $850m to $1bn respectively. This represents growth rates of between 10-20% which are expected to carry through until 2005. In the United States almost three quarters of all conventional food stores also sell a selection of organic products. This explains the annual growth rate of over 20% during the last twelve years.

The ITC seminar also suggested the following negative and positive trends would continue to impact and influence the organic industry during the next few years.

From the negative side; major markets will continue to mature as economies slow in Europe, while continued worldwide geopolitical uncertainty and future organic food frauds and scandals contribute to the slowing growth of organics. However, a portion of this negative trend will be counterbalanced by domestic expansion in developing countries within Eastern Europe, Asia and South America; more organic hotels, restaurants and supermarkets; and the introduction of organic aquaculture and other non-food products.

Product information – starting with chocolate…
During the last five years BioFach has grown and new products have narrowed the gap in selection between the organic and conventional food industries. The selection within food categories has also grown, providing the consumer with a more varied and extensive choice in the organic area.

This year was a continuation of this growth pattern as conventional food companies launched organic line extensions and established organic food companies released new products.

Initially organics meant not having a sweet tooth. Now, even chocolate lovers can enjoy their cravings in an organic format. Andreas Meyer, managing director of Germany’s Ecofinia, was at the show promoting his company’s Vivani Bio-Genuss line of organic chocolates. The company began with conventional chocolate, which it still sells under the brand names Weinrich and Porta.

The company has “FELIX” a selection of four organic chocolate bars for children. This year the company added a new bar called FELIX Knuspy which has wheat and rice crisps in chocolate. This supports last year’s release of FELIX Dinky, a chocolate bar with grain. The other two selections are FELIX Flaky (with corn flakes) and a pure milk chocolate bar called FELIX Milky. These 45-gram bars retail in Europe for approximately €0.79 ($).

The company also has a selection of 15 adult chocolates with a new addition this year being the “Joghurt Schokolade” a 100-gram milk chocolate bar filled with creamy yoghurt. The other new bar at this year’s show was the 100-gram Dark Orange, a distinctive orange flavour blended into an award winning bitter dark chocolate. The retail prices are €1.29-1.49. The company also has a very special product, originally from East Germany and based on a 30-year-old recipe, it was only recently released to the western world as Schoko Crisper. These chocolate crisps are pieces of crispy bread covered with milk chocolate and contain, as do the others, no sugar. The 165-gram bags retail for approximately €1.99.

For chocolate lovers in the UK, the company also manufactures chocolate for Green and Blacks, producing its peppermint and caramel filled chocolate bars.

Italians prominent at the show
There were over 310 Italian exhibitors at this year’s show. However, the one that caught the most attention was Vepack, a medium-sized company from Tuscany. Selling under the brand name Bionaturæ®, this company grew from an organic farm ten years ago to providing over 40 organic items in ten categories. As Leigh Geissler, one of the owners of the company stated: “During our growth we have maintained the Italian tradition of providing high quality and freshness in all our products. Whether it is one of our 15 traditional Italian pastas, our sugar-free fruit spreads or our sauces, our quality and freshness are drawing a generation lost to the art of cooking back to the kitchen.”

The company also has a wide range of 100% fruit and not-from-concentrate and no-sugar-added fruit juices and fruit nectars. Flavours include blueberry, apple, orange, peach, pear and several other single fruit and exotic blends. The thick juices, similar to a smoothie, are a special Italian blend and recipe using a puree. When blended with water it provides a wonderful tasting beverage. The new flavour at the show was the company’s organic Wildberry Nectar. The Company exports to Europe, North America and Japan and is looking to broaden its market reach within each of these markets.

Motherhemp spreading its wings
Named the winner of the Best New Organic Product at 2002’s Natural Products Show in London, Motherhemp Ltd was at BioFach to introduce its new organic Hemp Ice to Europe. Released only 18 months ago in the UK, this dairy-free alternative to ice cream has four delicious flavours; Vanilla, Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip and the new Double Chocolate Chunk. The product is available in two sizes – 500ml tubs and 100ml single servings.

As one of the company’s ten product lines using the hemp plant, Hemp Ice is made from the “creamy milk” produced from crushed organic hemp seeds. This “hemp milk” is then blended with three parts water and chilled to make Hemp Ice. Hemp Ice uses no hydrogenated fats and uses non-gluten based sucrose and fructuous syrup as the sweetener. The samples tried at the show tasted just like ice cream with generous pieces of real strawberry and chocolate chunks.

Other Motherhemp products include an organic cranberry and apple snack bar, organic hemp and spelt pasta, organic hemp pesto and an organic cold-pressed hempseed oil, to name but a few.

Pure Chips tapping the snack market
Founded in 1998 by Klaus Thomsen and Heine Sort, Pure Chips is a Danish company offering consumers an organic alternative to conventional potato chips or crisps. The company has three organic product lines. The first is a potato chip or crisp, the second product line is a unique potato snack and the third is dry-roasted peanuts.

Attending their second BioFach, Klaus was introducing two new flavoured potato snacks for 2003 – Organic Mediterranean and Organic Sour Cream and Onion. These join the popular and original Organic Salt Potato Snack introduced at BioFach 2002. All three flavours are offered in a 50-gram foil bag.

The line of chips, in 125 grams bags, include three flavours, Organic Salt, Organic Paprika and, new in 2002, Organic Sour Cream and Onion. The company is presently testing several new flavours including a garlic flavoured chip. It is also preparing a new product based on dry-roasted soya-beans.

Pure Chips is presently exporting throughout Scandinavia, and to Holland, Belgium, Spain and the UK with plans to expand into Asia and more of Europe.

And finally…
In wrapping up there are four other products and their respective companies that particularly deserve a mention.

The first is a German company called Härdtner Spezialitäten. It has created a new, whole-wheat whole grain (Vollkorn) bread in the shape of a car to encourage children to eat more healthily. There are ten slices in this 500-gram loaf of bread, ready to be driven away to a kid’s plate near you.

The second company, Bionade, also German, produces a patented non-alcoholic soft drink made from organic raw materials through the same process used to malt beer. This unique and new mineral drink is both a thirst quencher and energy drink offering a healthy alternative to the current selection of soft drinks and other energy drinks. Bionade is available in three flavours: Lychee, Elderberry and Herbal.

Third and a change-of-pace. Even household pets can eat more healthily as there were several companies promoting organic pet food. The most visible was Yarrah, a Dutch company with an extensive selection of food products for both cats and dogs.

And the final mention, although if space permitted there would be more, goes to the Uganda Marketing Services and its director, Damas M.O. Mulagwe. A very energetic, entertaining and lively individual, Mulagwe was promoting the region’s solar-dried organic vanilla, pineapples, passion fruits, bananas, ginger and coffee. His flair, understanding and style were truly refreshing.

Shake up in the organic show industry
Since the last article from BioFach Japan, there has been a realigning of the companies and players in the organic trade show industry.

London-based show Organex, usually held in the fall of each year, is now incorporated with Full Moon Communication’s Organic Products Europe which is, itself, co-located with Full Moon’s Natural Products Europe, a show now entering its seventh year.

Originally started in Brighton (south of England) as Natural Products, this new line-up of shows will be held 6-7 April, 2003 (Sunday and Monday) at the Grand Hall Olympia in London. The shows also have two full days of free seminars on natural and organic products. Several of the topics include: Secrets of the Successful Organic Retailer, Brand Academy and Tracking the Future.

Another change sees the BioFach brand name move from the All Things Organic show held in Austin, Texas to team up with Natural Products Expo East and produce Organic Products Expo-BioFach America, to be held 5-7 September, 2003, in Washington, DC. With a draw of more than 19,000 visitors this new organic initiative is being held in the heart of the organic industry as the eastern region of the United States accounted for over 30% ($2.6bn) of organic retail sales in 2002. In conjunction with the trade show there will also be a full schedule of educational, award and tour events from 4-7 September.

Meanwhile, the third annual All Things Organic has teamed up with a new European partner as Full Moon Communications’ parent company, Diversified Business Communications, steps in to organise this year’s event. Again, held at the Austin Convention centre, the dates of the event are 14-17 May, 2003. The trade show is May 16 and 17, while the conference portion of the event runs 15-17 May.

The Asian organic market continues to grow, a reflection of increased disposable incomes, an awareness of food safety issues and a general concern about health. In response to this the number of organic food shows or organic components of conventional food shows is also increasing.

For companies interested in the organic market in Japan, there is an important date change. The BioFach Japan show, held in December the previous two years, has been moved to 9-11 October, 2003. These new dates will make it difficult for some companies as Anuga, the bi-annual food extravaganza, will be held in Cologne from 11 to 16 October, 2003.

Meanwhile, Singapore will be home to a new organic show from 5-7 November, 2003 as Natural Products Organic Asia arrives on the scene. Created by Diversified Business Communications and HQ Link of Singapore, this show will be patterned after its popular namesake in London and is expected to feature a wide range of natural, organic vegetarian and environment-friendly products and services.

And finally from the organic trade show up-date, BioFach is extending its reach as it promotes the organic industry in South America. The BioFach Conference to be held in the exotic city of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, from 25-26 September, 2003 will deal with the development of internal markets for organic products in Brazil and other South American countries. The conference has limited room for approximately 22 booths and 32 table top displays.

Organics – so much more than hippies in sandals!
In closing, BioFach once again lived up to its reputation of being the best and largest organic show in Europe. With so many new and established organic products available, the organic industry is here to stay and will always be more than just a ‘fad of the 1960’s.’ The dates for BioFach 2004 move to 19-22 February.