Overcapacity has hit the British organic meat sector with significant volumes of organic lamb and organic beef set to be sold as conventional meat products this year, according to UK market researchers Organic Monitor.
The British organic meat products market has suffered from supply shortages since the late 1990s, slowing down growth rates, and a large increase in domestically produced volumes is resulting in overcapacity. Market growth of 18 per cent is projected in 2002 with much of the increase in domestic volumes to be absorbed by supermarkets substituting imports on their store shelves.
Organic Monitor has brought out two new research publications that concentrate on the British market for organic meat products and the French market for organic meats.
According to the researchers, demand has soared in both countries since the mid 1990s due to food scares fuelling consumer interest in organic meat products. The combined value of both markets is projected to reach €387 million in 2002.
The French organic meat products market is currently the second largest in Europe and healthy growth is expected to continue as retailers step up marketing efforts for these products. Retail penetration is low compared to Britain and high growth is expected as organic meat products become more widely available to French consumers.
Organic livestock farmers represent roughly 40 per cent of the 10,400 organic farmers in France. Meat producers converting to organic agriculture have driven much of the growth in French organic farmland since the mid 1990s. Most meat producers have small farms and lack of economies of scale in distribution and marketing is responsible for high retail prices of organic meat products in the French market.
Organic Monitor predicts that the organic meat sector in both countries will undergo rationalisation in the coming years as the major retailers wield increasing influence in the market.
Conventional meat companies dominate in both countries, and smaller suppliers are likely to consolidate their marketing activities in order to become more competitive. The UK has already witnessed a number of marketing groups formed in the last two years to serve this purpose.