Overcapacity continues to affect the organic food industry with a new report from UK market analysts Organic Monitor that reveals large volumes of organic meat products are coming into a market that is showing slowing growth rates.
According to the report, the European organic meat products market has been growing at over 20 per cent per annum since 1998, but considerable slow down is about to occur with market growth forecast to dip to 9.5 per cent this year.
Organic Monitor postulates that the European market is becoming increasingly competitive due to many countries suffering from oversupplies and the drying up of export markets. Most country markets are becoming self-sufficient in terms of the supply of organic meat products. The German and British markets have traditionally been large importers of organic meat products however imports are decreasing as consumers increasingly favour buying domestically produced organic meat products.
Germany has the largest market for organic meat products however sales were, and are still, heavily dented by the food scandal involving organic grains. Revenues fell by almost a quarter in 2002 as a consequence of the Nitrofen scandal. Positive growth is being observed again this year as consumer confidence continues to recover.
The Italian import market is experiencing some of the highest growth in Europe with organic meat supplies falling short of demand for a number of years - leaving the country largely dependent on imports. And all this despite the fact that, at 1.23 million hectares, the country has the largest organic land area in Europe.
The BSE crisis and the relatively low price premium have both combined to push beef to the top of the organic meat stakes, taking the bulk of revenues in Europe.
As a result of the later stage introduction on to the supermarket shelves, organic poultry and organic lamb segments are expected to post the highest compound annual growth rate in the coming years.
It seems that supplies of organic meat rest, for the most part, at the door of conventional meat companies with Organic Monitor reporting that there are 15 such companies in Europe currently dealing with significant volumes of organic meat products. These companies have acquired market leadership either via moving into the organic meat sector or by acquiring dedicated organic meat companies.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), in Aberystwyth, Wales has earmarked the 29 May for a one day seminar on organic red meat. The day aims to draw on two recent important studies carried out in Wales and the south-west of England which analysed the organic red meat sector and identified a range of strategies to secure the future of UK organic beef and lamb production.