Organic food consumption increases due to the threat of coronavirus

01 May 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is leading to an increase in demand for organic products and sustainable food. Retailers worldwide are experiencing strong increases in sales of organic products.

Retailers proposing organic products online report the highest sales growth. Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural food retailer, has begun limiting the number of customers at its online supermarket due to unprecedented demand. In the UK, Abel & Cole reported a 25% increase in their sales orders, while Riverford reports an increase in demand. Nurturing Organic, an Indian online retailer, experienced a 30% sales increase last month.

Physical retailers also benefit from emergency measures introduced by various governments, so organic and healthy food stores have remained open in many countries; these stores are attracting new shoppers, while existing customers spend more. In France, some organic food stores report sales increases of more than 40%. COVID-19 is raising consumer awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health. Consumers continue to buy more organic and healthy foods to improve their personal immunity.

However, the increase in demand brings supply problems. The organic food industry is now global with international supply networks under pressure. Much of the raw materials used by European and North American organic food companies are produced in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Blockades are disrupting supply chains.

For example, India is a major source of organic tea, herbs, spices, and related ingredients. Emergency measures introduced in March have halted food processing and exports.

Ecovia Intelligence expects demand for organic and sustainable food to remain strong after consumer fears subside. Previous food and health problems caused an initial increase in sales followed by sustained demand for organic products. For example, the crisis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2000 escalated the demand for organic meat products in Europe; sales remained high in subsequent years. Likewise, SARS triggered an increase in demand for organic food in China (and Asia) in 2004. The melamine scandal in 2008 increased demand for organic baby food in China and within a few years, the Chinese formula market Organic infantile became the largest in the world.

Organic foods were first introduced on a large scale in the early 1990s. It took 15 years for global sales of organic products to reach $ 50 billion in 2008. Ten years (2018) later, they exceeded 100 billion Dollars. With COVID-19 changing the way we shop and eat, the next jump to $ 150 billion could be in the next 5 years.

An update to the global organic and sustainable food market will be published in the next editions of the Sustainable Food Summit.

Source: Foods News Latam