Price pitched high for organics in France

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Organic food

Organic products sold at France's big retailers can cost up to 72 per cent more than their non-organic equivalent, finds fresh research that brings the price-organic debate into sharp focus.

French retail publication Linéaires compared the price of over 600 conventional and organic products at retailers Leclerc, Carrefour, Intermarché et Géant Casino, and found that almost one in three products exceeded a 90 per cent price differential.

Their research lays waste to "the famous 30 per cent [differential]"​, says the publication, widely considered in France to be the difference on average in price between conventional products and their organic equivalents.

While still just a small slice of overall food sales in France, the organic market is enjoying healthy double-digit growth. Described as a 'veritable island of growth in a lifeless food market​', a recent report from the French Institut Precepta estimates the organic market will grow by between 8 to 10 per cent a year until 2012.

Socio-political factors combined with environmental concerns and the government measure that aims for 20 per cent organic food in state catering (schools, state-run offices, hospitals etc) by 2012 are all feeding into this burgeoning market, claims the Precepta study.

Further, they add, organic supplies have dovetailed out from initial milk, flour and butter offerings to more elaborate ranges such as biscuits and ready-prepared foods, further contributing to the dynamics of the market that is also enjoying full-on marketing strategies to reach the consumer.

Added-value: smaller margins in organic

Aiming at an even playing field, Linéaires writes that it selected only conventional products - private label or brands - with an organic equivalent that had comparable recipes, formats and packaging.

Globally, the study investigated 664 products, or 332 direct comparisons, taken from Carrefour, Intermarche, Leclerc and Geant Casino between 8 and 12 October this year in the French town of Rennes.

Of note, their report clarifies that they noticed a weaker price differential between products bearing 'added-value': the greater the added-value appeal, the more the raw material cost is diluted. For example, organic smoked salmon from French firm Labeyrie was barely 20 per cent more expensive than its non-organic equivalent.

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