Agri-Food News from Europe - April 2017

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with the support of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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Press review

German Economy at a Glance

German economy surges at fastest rate in five years

The German economy expanded at the fastest pace in five years in 2016 and the growth momentum is expected to continue this year as rising private and state spending help Germany cement its position as the locomotive of the euro zone.

Europe's largest economy expanded by 1.9% last year, a preliminary estimate from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Thursday (January 12, 2017), as an environment of low interest rates and a record influx of refugees fuel household and state spending. These factors have compensated for weakening exports, long the pillar of an economy where manufacturing makes up about a fourth of output.

Economists polled by ‘Reuters' had expected growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 1.8% for 2016 after an expansion rate of 1.7% in the previous year. The growth rate of 1.9% matched the highest forecast in the poll. The Statistics Office said it estimated growth was around 0.5% for the fourth quarter after it halved to 0.2% in the July-September period. The Ifo institute said it forecasts a growth rate of 0.5% January-March this year. "The German economy in 2016 once again defied an entire series of downside risks, thanks to strong domestic demand," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski, adding that Germany's biggest risk now was complacency. A breakdown of the 2016 GDP figures showed private consumption rose by an adjusted 2.0% on the year, contributing 1.1%age points to the overall growth rate.

Strongest spending since 1992

State spending jumped by 4.2%, adding 0.8%age points to the overall growth rate. "This was the strongest increase in state consumption since 1992 following German reunification," the head of the Federal Statistics Office Dieter Sarreither said, adding this was due to spending on refugees as well as increased pension entitlements.

Economists expect the growth momentum to continue this year, although most forecasts point to a weaker expansion due to calendar effects. "Taking a glimpse into 2017, the German economy remains fundamentally in good shape," said UniCredit's Andreas Rees. "The growth drivers will change somewhat, since there will be a (moderate) shift from domestic demand to stronger export activity." He expects growth of 1.5% this year.

The German economy ministry said incoming orders and sentiment indicators point to solid growth in production and a good start for this year. "Overall, the picture of a solid, strong, domestically driven economy remains," it said in a monthly report.

Despite the optimism, economists and industry leaders warn that risks remain. Rising inflation fuelled mainly by higher oil prices is expected to eat into the purchasing powers of Germans this year, restraining the growth impetus from consumption. State spending could also shrink as refugee arrivals fall. In addition, the possibilities of a protectionist trade policy by U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and state interference in China have been cited as events that could hurt German exporters.

Current discussions and trends in Germany / the European Union

Whole Foods' 2017 “Trends to Watch” list hits 7 seafood themes

Whole Foods has released its list of trends to watch, with several predictions touching on important themes for the seafood industry. The list, which is compiled by Whole Foods Market's global buyers and experts, focuses on trends in product-sourcing and consumer preferences.

Whole Foods Market's top 10 trends for 2017 include:

  • Products from By-products – Whether it's leftover whey from strained Greek yogurt or spent grains from beer, food producers are finding innovative – and delicious – ways to give by-products new life. In the seafood world, innovative companies are looking at methods for retaining and finding uses, both edible and otherwise, for fish and shellfish by-products.
  • Flexitarianism – In 2017, consumers will embrace a new, personalized version of healthy eating that's less rigid than typical vegan, Paleo, gluten-free and other “special diets” that have gone mainstream, according to Whole Foods. For instance, eating vegan before 6 p.m., or eating paleo five days a week, or gluten-free whenever possible allows consumers more flexibility. Instead of a strict identity aligned with one diet, shoppers embrace the “flexitarian” approach to making conscious choices about what, when and how much to eat. Pescetarianism is one major sub-category of this trend that will get bigger in 2017.
  • Wellness – The new year will usher in a new wave of products that go far beyond focusing on wellness. Buzzed-about ingredients include kava, Tulsi/holy basil, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms (like reishi and chaga), and adaptogenic herbs (maca and ashwagandha). Seafood can also mesh into this trend, given it is one of the healthiest and most versatile proteins available.
  • Japanese Food, Beyond Sushi – Japanese-inspired eating is on the rise and it doesn't look anything like a sushi roll. Long-celebrated condiments with roots in Japanese cuisine, like ponzu, miso, mirin, sesame oil and plum vinegar are making their way from restaurant menus to mainstream American pantries. Seaweed is a rising star as shoppers seek more varieties of the savory greens, including fresh and dried kelp, wakame, dulse and nori, while farmhouse staples like Japanese-style pickles will continue to gain popularity.
  • Creative Condiments – From traditional global recipes to brand new ingredients, interesting condiments are taking center stage. Once rare and unfamiliar sauces and dips are showing up on menus and store shelves. Look for black sesame tahini, habanero jam, ghee, pomegranate molasses, black garlic purée, date syrup, plum jam with chia seeds, beet salsa, Mexican hot chocolate spreads, sambal oelek or piri piri sauce, harissa, and Frontera adobo sauces (Ancho, chipotle and guajillo varieties). Essentia is one company putting a seafood spin on condiments, getting into the game with lobster and cod flavors.
  • Mindful Meal Prep – People aren't just asking themselves what they'd like to eat, but also how meals can stretch their dollar, reduce food waste, save time and be healthier. Trends to watch include the “make some/buy some,” approach, like using pre-cooked ingredients from the hot bar to jumpstart dinner, or preparing a main dish from scratch and using frozen or store-bought ingredients as sides.
  • Fresh oven-ready meal kits – Meal kits are also on the upswing as shoppers continue to crave healthier options that require less time. Whole Foods Market's Freshly Made video series highlights the kinds of recipes and ingredients shoppers are seeking. Seafood companies including Rastelli Foods and Australis have recently scored big with meal-kit contracts.

Source:, December 9, 2016 by Cliff White

Top trend 2017: Evolution of ancient grains

The use of ancient grains has sky rocketed over the last few years, and the trend looks set to continue well into 2017. According to Innova Markets Insights Top Ten Trends for 2017, “Seeds of Change” made the list and is certainly a trend to watch. FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at the growth in interest of ancient grains.

Pulses are ancient seeds and grains, one of the first foods ever eaten and cultivated by man, they are versatile and can be used as the basis of a dish or as an addition to a favorite. The International Year of Quinoa 2013 may have sparked some initial interest in ancient grains. Few people regularly used seeds and pulses were prior to this and since then the interest in quinoa and other ancient grains has grown significantly. The leading ancient grain ingredient being used is chia (44%), with quinoa (+15%) and millet (+10%) being the ancient grain ingredients to demonstrate growth, with chia having exactly the same number of product launches. Increasing consumer interest in previously exotic seeds like chia and quinoa has fueled the application of seeds and grains in general. Grains bring a natural source of flavor, texture and health, including a high protein content and consumers are looking to benefit. Chia itself is popping up in unexpected categories and applications such as soft drinks. Innovators are planting the seeds for tomorrow's next generation of winners.

Speaking exclusively to FoodIngredientsFirst, Director of Andean Grain Products Ltd., Thomas Spillane explains that he believes the demand for chia seeds, quinoa and other ancient grains comes down to a few factors. He said: “Firstly, the never ending search and demand for new products and foods is fueling this trend, secondly, there are recent studies that show the impressive nutritional and health benefits of these food that were previously unknown. There are thirdly, growing nutritional trends that match well with these products such as a demand for omega-3, vegetable proteins and gluten-free foods, and last but not least globalization plays a significant role.”

Chia and Quinoa

According to Spillane, even though both chia and quinoa are considered “ancient grains”, they are both in fact seeds. He notes: “Seeds are the ovule containing an embryo within, while a grain is a fusion of the seed coat and the fruit. They are both also “pseudo-cereals”, being that they are not true cereals which are technically part of the grass family.”

Chia seeds have been finding their way into the food industry for quite some time. These whole grain seeds are amongst the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing fiber, protein, omega 3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. “Chia seed's main claim is that it is the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids,” confirms Spillane, “Chia seed is approximately 30% oil/fat, and of this approximately 64% is alpha linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids. Chia is also high in protein at around 20%, in addition to being high in dietary fiber.” He also said, “Chia seed does not have a very strong flavor so can be added to many types of food for a nutritional boost.” This ‘forgotten superfood' from South America, is now gaining momentum in global markets. Thanks to chia's inherent versatility as a nutritional additive, chia has now become a desirable product attribute in many bakery items and the breakfast category. According to Innova Market Insights data, Health (78.25%) and Convenience Foods (75.53%) were the leading applications for Chia grains in 2016. The United States (US) accounted for 31% of launches tracked that contained chia in this period. The market category where chia is listed most as an ingredient, is in the cereals category, up almost 4% compared to 2015.

There were more than seven times as many products tracked containing chia as an ingredient in 2015 compared to 2011. Gluten free, omega 3, fiber and high protein claims are common on these products.

“Quinoa is a bit of a different animal in the sense that it is more of a “food” versus. chia being a “supplement” in my mind,” Spillane claims, “You cook quinoa in a similar manner to rice and pretty much anything you can do with rice you can do with quinoa.” Nutritionally the main benefit compared to rice is its protein level – rice has around 7g of protein per 100g uncooked while quinoa has approximately 14 grams. Quinoa protein is also a “complete protein” in that it contains all eight essential amino acids and is also a low glycemic food.


Lesser used seeds such as hemp are making NPD inroads and innovators in this space are keen to promote the benefits of using hemp in food products. Hemp seeds are the edible part of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L). They are small, round, and have a light nutty flavor. Hemp seeds can be added to salads, desserts, yogurts, cereals, and breads. They can also be pressed for oil, milled into protein powder, roasted or shelled and made into hemp foods. These foods will be rich in omega 6 and omega 3, essential fatty acids that have heart health and anti-inflammatory benefits. Hemp seeds can be turned into butter, milk, and protein powders.

According to The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, retail market research data for hemp food and body care products in the United States is estimated at US$200 million in 2014. Preet Marwaha, Executive Vice-President of California-based PlanetHemp told FoodIngredientsFirst there are two key factors driving the interest in hemp - “The search for an alternate plant protein to soy and the global exposure from medical cannabis.”

“The health and nutritional benefits are significant,” he explains, “It is the highest quality protein for the human body based on its structure of edestin and albumen protein, it is one of the best sources for Omega 3 and Omega 6 delivering it in an almost ideal ratio for our body and it is a great source for many key nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc.” So where has today's interest in hemp come from and how does this ancient grain hold up? “Many of the earlier uses were based around the fiber, hemp is known as one of the strongest natural fibers available. Ancient uses were yarn, cloth and paper while more modern use ranges from rope to textiles to canvas were made using hemp fiber. Ancient uses of the seed were right alongside grains such as barley, wheat, soy and rice,” notes Marwaha. “Today we are seeing food as the primary use in the form of seed, protein powder and oil. There are many companies like us that are pioneering new innovations in food and hemp is a standout competitor against many other ancient grains,” he claims.

What's next for ancient grains?

Supplier innovation using ancient grains is demonstrating how these ingredients can be used in the development of healthy food and beverage applications like snack bars, smoothies, bakery products and food supplements. Natural ingredients and healthy food solutions from products like maca, sacha inchi, goldenberry, hemp, lucuma, yacon, chia, quinoa are likely to be at the forefront of consumer and food trends well in 2017. Spillane, Andean Grain Ltd. confirms: “I firmly believe that both chia seed and quinoa are here to stay and not a passing fad.”

Are there any lesser known grains that we can expect to be popular for 2017? “With regard to South American ancient grains, we believe canihua may be next in line to have its place in the sun. Canihua is actually in the same family as quinoa – canihua's Latin name is Chenopodium pallidicaule and quinoa is Chenopodium quinoa,” he explains. “Its nutritional properties are similar to quinoa though canihua is a smaller grain and is sometimes marketed as “Baby Quinoa”.

Source:, article published on January 23, 2017

German Nutrition Report 2017 published – Where and what do Germans shop?

In the Nutrition Report 2017 the opinion polling institute Forsa interviewed, on behalf of the Bundes-ministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, around 1000 people above the age of 14 to investigate their eating and shopping habits.

The results of the study show that, although 89% of the people surveyed regard healthy nutrition as important, half of the interviewees (55%) prefer food that is quick and easy to prepare – a year ago the figure was 45%. Especially for people in the age range 19 - 29 speed is important (72%), whereas for the over 60-year-olds speed is not necessarily a factor when preparing food (47%).

It's no surprise that the number of people who cook every day continued to fall from 41% in 2015 to 39% in 2016. 11% stated that they never cook at all. A ranking of favourite foods reveals that meat comes first (53%), followed by various types of noodle (38%). Way down the list are vegetable dishes (20%) and soups (15%).

Favourite place to shop: the supermarket

The Germans' preference for big supermarkets as the place to do their shopping is increasing: 62% buy most of their food there (2015: 59%). Organic stores as the preferred shopping destination have lost ground. According to the study, 6% of Germans buy the lion's share of their food there. These are still most likely to be young people and the over 60-year-olds (each 10%).

When the Germans shop for food, personal taste is particularly important (97%), but so is the regional origin of food (73%). Then come product information and price (each 57%), and for 45% buying specific brands is important. Logos and labels are a criterion for 35%.

The people surveyed have a relatively clear opinion of food trends: most regard the word 'superfood' as a temporary fad. Only 20% think it will catch on long-term. The situation regarding the vegan product range is quite different: 71% assume the products will be on the shelves permanently. The same applies to gluten-free and lactose-free products (73% and 81%). A whole variety of sources are used by the interviewees when they want information about food products. Around three-quarters get an idea of the quality in the shop (78%). But labels and logos are playing a bigger and bigger role, with 64% using them as sources of information. 51% also research on the internet – the biggest proportion being the 45 to 59-year-olds, followed by the younger age groups. Social media play a significant role for younger consumers: 34% get their information via Facebook, etc. For many people a smartphone is becoming an essential tool when they go shopping: they google in the store (27%), use Apps (17%) or access QR-Codes (16%).

Germans are more concerned about animal welfare than in 2016. A label produced by the state as an official logo is regarded by four out of five interviewees as important or very important. So it's entirely in keeping with this finding that 87% are not satisfied with the current situation regarding animal keeping. They think is essential to have an investigation and improvement of standards, and 82% would like to see an improvement in transparency for the consumer by means of, for example, logos, and the report states that 90% would even be prepared to pay more for it.

Source:, January 10, 2017

Food preferences of German consumers
  • Meat 53%
  • Pasta 38%
  • Vegetable dishes 20%
  • Fish dishes 16%
  • Soups 15%
  • Potato dishes 14%
  • Pizza 13%
  • Poultry dishes 13%
Consumer preferences
  • I buy whats tastes good 97%
  • Regional products are importants 73%
  • The product has to be inexpensive 57%
  • I prefer special brands 45%
  • I pay attention to labels/seals 35%
  • I like to try promotional products 31%
Where do Germans buy their groceries?
  • Supermarket 62%
  • Discounter 43%
  • Specialty store 30%
  • Fresh market 8%
  • Producer / farm shop 5%
  • Organic store 6%

Source of data: Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft

Trade fair review

Fruit Logistica 2017: Great business in the anniversary year

More than 75,000 management-level trade visitors from over 130 countries – 5% increase in number of visitors – Trade visitors and exhibitors report positive business results.

From February 8-10, more than 3,100 exhibitors from 84 countries presented a comprehensive market overview of the fresh produce sector at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. Along with negotiating and concluding business transactions, exhibitors emphasised the importance of global interest in the trade event. This year's show saw the first-ever Canadian pavilion with some 14 exhibitors and showcasing fresh fruit and vegetable products from British Columbia, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

The trade specialists attending Fruit Logistica were characterized by their internationality and decision-making authority. Some 82% of them came to Berlin from outside Germany. The level of decision-making authority among trade visitors remained high again this year. More than two-thirds reportedly work in management positions.

The largest trade visitor groups included fruit and vegetable growers, representatives from import/export companies, and representatives from the wholesale and retail trades.

The next edition of FRUIT LOGISTICA will take place on 7-9 February 2018.

Source: Closing Report on

Biofach and VIVANESS achieve the 50,000 visitor mark

Innovation and responsibility: Germany, the country of the year inspires the organic industry

The exhibition duo BIOFACH, the World's leading Trade Fair for Organic Food, and VIVANESS, the International Trade Fair for Natural Personal Care, have been able to set a new record in 2017 by achieving the 50,000 visitor mark. This time, expert visitors travelled from 134 countries to the Nuremberg meeting place. They were enthusiastic about the offers from the 2,785 exhibitors (259 of these at the VIVANESS) from 88 countries, and were inspired by the country of the year, Germany. The branch also drew a positive balance: in 2016, German households spent approximately 9.9 % more money on organic foods and beverages than in the previous year. The turnover totalled EUR 9.48 billion, according to the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (Organic Food Production Alliance - BÖLW).

The Canadian presence at Biofach set another record: a total of 29 exhibitors and 3 industry associations exhibited under the Canadian umbrella, with another 14 Canadian companies walking the show. The Canadian organic products on display ranged from maple syrup and maple products to grains, seeds and cereal, to fruits and berries, and snacks, oils and non-food items. Canadian exhibitors were very satisfied with the show and the quality of the contacts they established, with many of them planning to come back in 2018.

An increasing number of customers are also buying natural cosmetics. The German natural cosmetics market is the strongest in Europe, with a market share of 8.5 % and a volume of EUR 1.15 billion, according to the joint survey by konzepte, Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), Information Resources Inc (IRI), IMShealth and BioVista.

The BIOFACH and VIVANESS 2018 are to take place from 14 February to 17 February in the exhibition centre Nuremberg.

Source:, closing report of February 18, 2017


Germany: nearly 10% growth in organic turnover

The turnover of organic food grew strongly in Germany in 2016. This was reported by the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW) and the Arbeitskreis Biomarkt prior to the launch of BioFach. Also the area of organically managed agricultural land and the number of farms grew.

An increase of nearly 10% in the turnover of organic food

In the retail trade the sale of organic products has increased sharply: in 2016 Germans bought organic food and beverages to the value of €9.48 billion. This information can be found in the report of the Arbeitskreis Biomarkt that is coordinated by the Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI). This means that the Germans spent 9.9% more on organic products than in 2015.

Conventional retail boosted sales

The analysis tells us that full-range suppliers in the conventional retail food trade in particular boosted sales by stocking bigger product ranges. The specialist wholefood trade also grew strongly, but less vigorously than in previous years. The conventional retail food trade achieved total organic turnover of €5.45 billion, which is an increase of 14.6%. According to the figures of the Arbeitskreis Biomarkt, the conventional retail food trade accounted for 58% of the total organic market. The turnover of food in the wholefood trade grew by 5% to €2.85 billion (including non-food to €3.21 billion), which equates to a market share of 30%.

In the other businesses, such as bakeries, butchers, farm shops, mail order, weekly markets and health food stores, customers bought organic products to the value of €1.18 billion. Here growth was somewhat weaker than in the previous year that experienced strong growth.

Share of turnover by distribution channel
Distribution channel Organic turnover* in €1,000 Organic share in %
Source: AC Nielsen & Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 6,* October 2015 – September 2016
Food retail trade (including Aldi, Lidl, Norma and dm-drogerie markt (dm) drugstores 4,200,688 100
Drugstores 1,239,147 29.5
Supermarkets 449,859 10.7
Large supermarkets 383,803 9.1
Small supermarkets 66,056 1.6
Discounters – total 1,032,334 24.6
Co-operating discounters 237,735 5.7
Aldi-Lidl-Norma 794,600 18.9
Consumer markets 1,479,348 35.2
Consumer markets > 2,500 square metres 698,177 16.6
Consumer markets – small 781,170 18.6

Source:, article published on 13.02.2017 by Kai Kreuzer

Germany: Regional products leaving organic behind

For more than two thirds of German consumers (67%), taste is the decisive criterion when buying food in a supermarket. This was shown by a study conducted by the German Quality Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Qualität – DGQ). The second most important criterion is the price (65%), followed by the ingredients of a product. 40% of the interviewees attach great importance to healthy foods with natural ingredients that are rich in vitamins and minerals. The study further shows that women (43%) are more health conscious than men (36%).

Top 5 criteria when buying food
  • Taste 67%
  • Price 65%
  • Ingredients 40%
  • Regional production 31%
  • Nutrients 21%

Source: DGQ consumer study Food Barometer 2016

One third of Germans consider regional production of food products important – up from 27% in 2014. Regional origin is a sign of quality, says every third German consumer. This is even more important than organic production, which only 14% of the interviewees associate with the high quality of a product.

Source: Rundschau für den Lebensmittelhandel, 01/2017

European organic market grows by double digits in 2015

For organic farming worldwide, 2015 could go down in its history as a record-breaking year. Also the organic markets in Europe showed a very good performance. Almost all the major markets enjoyed double-digit growth rates. The European organic market increased by 13% and nearly reached €30 billion, the Member States of the European Union reached €27.1 billion. At BioFach the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL - Switzerland) and the Agricultural Market Information Company (AMI - Germany) presented the 2015 data of the European organic sector.

Global market: Distribution of retail sales value by country 2015

Source: FiBL, AMI survey 2017

  • United States 47%
  • Germany 11%
  • France 7%
  • China 6%
  • Canada 4%
  • United Kingdom 4%
  • Italy 3%
  • Switzerland 3%
  • Other 15%

Graphic FiBL, AMI: Worldwide organic retail sales 2015 by country.

First-time double-digit growth again

Helga Willer, an expert on statistics at FiBL, is delighted with the positive growth figures: "The great dynamism of the European organic market is reflected in strong growth in 2015, which was again double-digit with a total of 13% for the first time since the financial crisis (2008) Diana Schaack from the AMI said: "Many products and product groupseven reach much higher proportions." In Switzerland, for example, every fourth sold egg is an organic egg, and the portion of For Helga Willer, the significant increase in ecologically managed areas in Europe is record-breaking: "For organic farming, 2015 could become a record year in its history."

European retail sales of organic products 2015
  • Europe 29.8 billion €
  • Germany 8.6 billion €
  • 262 € are spent per person in Switzerland
  • 8.4% of the food market in Denmark is organic

Source: Infographic FiBL, AMI: Organic retail sales in Europe 2015

Organic market grows faster than organic farmland

The trend of the market growing faster than organic farmland continued in 2015. However, it is encouraging that the area of organic farmland grew at a faster rate than it had in past years: it increased by almost one million hectares or by 8.2%. At the end of 2015, 12.7 million hectares were under organic management in Europe (in the European Union, 11.2 million hectares). This constitutes 2.5% ‑ 6.2% respectively ‑ of the total agricultural land.

The countries with the largest organic farmland areas are Spain (1.97 million hectares), Italy (1.49 million hectares) and France (1.37 million hectares). In each of these three countries, the area of organic farmland increased by at least 100'000 hectares. Nine European countries report that at least 10% of their farmland is organic and the highest organic shares worldwide are in Liechtenstein (30.2%), Austria (21.3%) and Sweden (16.9%).

Bio-processors and bio-importers also record double-digit growth rates

In Europe, almost 350,000 agricultural enterprises operated biologically (European Union: 270,000). In 2015 the FiBL statistics counted some 60,000 organic processors and nearly 3,700 organic importers. While growth in agricultural enterprises was modest at 3% (European Union: 5%), the processors increased by 12% and importers by as much as 19%.

Matthias Stolze from FiBL concludes: "The fact that the growth of importers and processors is much stronger than that of farms is another sign that the dynamism of production does not keep pace with that of the market. It is therefore important that the bio sector and agricultural policy work to optimize the market and the political environment.”

The survey on organic farming in Europe was conducted by FiBL and AMI. The FiBL data collection activities were carried out under the framework of the global survey on organic farming supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the International Trade Centre and NürnbergMesse.

Source:, article published on February 17, 2017 by Karin Heinze

Organic boom in Denmark

Organic farming in Denmark has grown more than ever before in the past 20 years: The Ministry of Agriculture reported that a total of 1,128 farms received subsidies for the conversion and expansion of its existing cultural area. 450 new companies had converted from conventional to organic cultivation for the first time. The area under conversion doubled in the course of the previous year, now accounting for 40,000 hectares. The farmers thus responded to an increased demand for organic foods from within and outside of the country, reported Copenhagen.

Source: Lebensmittelzeitung No. 45, November 11, 2016

France: boost to growth of the organic industry

The decisive engine of growth for the organic market in France is the specialist wholefood trade. In the first half of 2016 it grew by an astonishing 25 %.

Organics are booming in France: the semi-state Agence Bio is anticipating growth in turnover of an amazing 20% for 2016. Statistically, 21 farms in France convert to organic every day. At the end of June 2016 France had 31,880 organic farmers. The area of organic land rose in consequence to over 1.5 million hectares, which equates to approximately 6% of all agricultural land.

Almost half a million hectares, i.e. nearly a third of organically managed land, are currently undergoing conversion to organic - which is testimony to the much higher rate of conversion seen in the last three years. You see the same development in wine growing: 300 farms joined the conversion process in the first half of 2016 – 10 more than in the same period in 2015. Running in parallel was the rising demand for organic wine.

Organic Supermarkets in prime locations

With an anticipated 6.9 billion euros in 2016, the turnover of organic food is shooting up by a billion euros. In comparison, organic turnover in Germany came to around 8.9 billion euros in 2015. But you have to bear in mind that the population of Germany is bigger than the population of France by over 16 million.

This growth in turnover means that France is catching up with the leaders in organic marketing in Europe like Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Austria. In terms of organically managed land, France has overtaken Germany (one million hectares) and, together with Italy, is one of the front runners in the European Union (EU). In the lead is Spain.

Organic creates jobs

Of course, high demand for organic products has a knock-on effect regarding jobs. Agence Bio estimates that every tenth job in agriculture is on an organic farm. Organic farms are a bigger source of jobs, because they operate more labour-intensively than conventional farms. The proportion of organic farms in the total of number of farms in France is 7.2 % (Germany: 6.4 %).

Organic sector creates jobs

The key driver of growth of the organic market in France is the specialist wholefood trade. The growth rate in the first half of 2016 was a massive 25 %, which was much more than in the conventional retail food trade that nevertheless experienced growth of 18% compared with the same period in 2015. Already in 2015 the rise in turnover in the retail organic food trade in France was 14.7 %, which was somewhat higher than in Germany.

The milk sector plays a special role in France. Because of the low price of supplies in the conventional sector there was a lot of interest among dairy farmers in converting to organic. 560 farmers with milk production converted in the first six months of the year. After two years of conversion the volume of organic milk is expected to rise by 30% in 2018.

Organic chains are expanding from Paris out into other centres

For a long time the first organic chains limited their activities to their own region, and this usually meant greater Paris. Now that this region has become very well served with specialist organic stores expansion is taking place increasingly in other regions – Alsace greater Lyon, Bordeaux, Provence and on the Côte d`Azur.

One of the boom regions for organic consumption is the Côte d`Azur. The sunny south-east of the country is number two after Paris. For the last few years, organic supermarkets have been mushrooming along the Mediterranean in big cities like Nice, Cannes, Antibes and the Principality of Monaco. Recently, various national as well as two regional organic chains have joined the local operators of specialist wholefood stores.

Naturalia now has eleven specialist organic stores on the Côte d‘Azur, La Vie Claire eight and BioCbon five. In addition you find the regional actors Marchand Bio (eight stores), domiciled in Grasse, and Marcel&Fils (17 stores, three restaurants), headquartered in Aix-en-Provence. Then come Biocoop and Biomonde stores, managed by independent retailers that operate as a network in collaboration with their particular wholesaler.

For independent specialist retailers life is becoming more and more of a challenge

The organic chains are not yet a problem, maintains Romain Baud from Biocity. With his brother Axel (27), the thirty-one-year-old opened the first store in 2011, and then they moved to 300 m² specialist premises in Nice that were at that time the biggest of their kind in the sunny city on the Mediterranean.

They are especially keen on the regional marketing of fresh products, something that for years had been neglected in the south of France. They now offer an excellent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, cheese and vacuum-packed meat. “We were the first to operate on this scale, but in the last two to three years no less than a dozen specialist organic outlets have opened in Nice. Naturalia alone has launched eight shops in no time at all!” The size of most of them is 150 - 200 square metres, because it's extremely difficult to find bigger retail space in traditional town centres in France. However, this specialist in retailing also sees the danger that the wholefood independents could soon disappear if this kind of expansion continues.

Biocity employs five people and is in the process of building up a delivery service. Older people and big families in particular like having their purchases delivered to their homes. Its main supplier is the regional wholesaler Naturdis in Grasse. So far, Biocity has not joined one of the purchasing networks, although Romain Baud is aware that as competition becomes fiercer purchasing terms and conditions and marketing play an increasingly important role. So he by no means excludes joining one of the countrywide networks.

New specialist stores create a huge boost

The French specialist magazine Bio-Linéaires has for years been investigating the number of new organic shops and organic supermarkets. From the middle of February to the middle of October 2016 (eight months) 125 new wholefood stores with an average 280 square metres (m²) of retail area were launched. The total retail area came to 34,041 m², which boosted sales of organic food in the specialist trade.

Modern and well managed shops give the organic sector a personal face in France too. According to the figures given by Bio-Linéaires, the number of independents comes to around 15 %. 26 % belong to the purchasing and marketing network Biocoop (33 specialist stores). The Bio-Monde network, that has been successful in recent years, opened only one store in the same period and did not, therefore, play a significant role in new openings.

The national and regional organic chains like Naturalia, La Vie Claire, BioCbon, Satoriz, Eau Vive and NaturéO account for approximately 60 %. Between February and October 2016, six specialist organic stores opened in the Nice region: Satoriz (650 m²), Biocoop 2 (165 m² and 140 m²), Clemenceau (210 m²), Naturalia (290 m²) and La Vie Claire (250 m²).

We can conclude in summary that the current success of organic food in France has not occurred by chance. Organic food has achieved a high level of penetration in the conventional trade too, and it is becoming easier and easier for the consumer to buy organics. Plus the fact that the density of specialist stores has steadily increased in recent years. You now find organics in school meals and served in pre-school facilities for children. And not least, there is now more and more advertising of organics on television, radio and in magazines. And with a smartphone it means you've got the nearest address for organics in your pocket.

Source:, January 24, 2017, editor: Kai Kreuzer

Ireland: organic market grows by nearly 24 %

As the German Agricultural Market Information Company (Deutsche Agrarmarkt Informationsgesellschaft - AMI) reports, in 2016 the Irish organic market grew by 23.7 % compared with the year before.

According to the Kantar trade panel, organic turnover in 2016 was €142 million. In 2015 growth was around 6 %. The top sellers continue to be organic vegetables, fruit and yogurt. Compared with 2015, the market for organic vegetables grew in 2016 by €5.6 million to over €34 million, organic yogurt by €3.5 million to €27.5 million and organic fruit by nearly €2 million.

These figures were revealed at the National Organic Awards, conferred by the organisation Bord Bia every two years in Dublin. According to the research carried out by Bord Bia, nearly 94 % of Irish consumers already buy organic products on average at least once every two weeks.

Source:, article published on 01.02.2017

The Italian market: strong organic growth in 2016

2016 could be a boom year in Italy in terms of both the production and consumption of organic products. “In 2016 we recorded 20% growth of the organic market,” explained Assobio, the National Association of Manufacturers and Distribution of Organic and Natural Products. In the first three-quarters of 2016, in fact, the turnover of the members of Assobio had already reached 493 million euros, which was more in just 9 months than in the whole of 2014.

In 2015 the sale of organic products on the domestic market reached 2.6 billion euros, and exports generated a further 1.6 billion euros. Especially fruit and vegetables are much appreciated by the international market: the major importers of Italian organics are Germany and France with a share of 18% each, followed by the United States, Canada and the Benelux and Scandinavian countries.

According to the Italian farmers´ association Coldiretti and data of BioBank, in 2016 there was also a positive trend in the expansion of organic agricultural land that exceeded growth of 11.2% in 2015. In terms of marketing channels, in addition to the growth in traditional stores and supermarkets, there was a boom in direct sales by agricultural producers via, for example, farm shops, farmers' markets and networks.

BioBank data says that e-commerce has grown by 71% in the last five years. In the same period the turnover of organic restaurants has increased by 69%. Specialized organic food shops recorded growth of 15%, the outlets for direct sales on organic farms grew by 14% and school meals that use organic raw materials by 12%. Coldiretti's figures for August 2016 show that there were 2,878 companies with direct sales, 1,527 farm sales, 1,395 specialized shops, 1,250 school cafeterias, 877 buyer groups, 861 restaurants, 286 e-commerce sites and 221 foods markets.

Source:, article published on January 16, 2017

Scotland's organic market is growing continuously

According to the Organic Market Report 2016 of the British Soil Association, Scotland experienced stable market growth last year, and it was a major contributor to overall growth in Britain. For the third year in succession Scotland recorded growth – in 2015 it was 5%.

The Market Report tells us that the Scots frequently opt for organics: in 2015 they represented around 11 % of all organic shoppers in the United Kingdom (UK). 50 % of Scottish consumers say they would buy more organic food and beverages if they were available. Over a third of independent retailers in Scotland reported growth in turnover in 2015 and two-thirds expect growth to have risen in 2016. An example is Greencity Wholefoods in Glasgow, whose turnover in 2015 rose by 17 %.

The Scots are pioneers in the catering sector and school meals in particular: in 2015 organic meals were available in 48 % of schools. Total expenditure in this category in the UK came to approximately €305,000.

Source:, article published on 01.02.2017

UK organic market back to growth

For the UK, the organic market continues its steady rise. For the third year in a row organic food has registered a growth in its market, outperforming non-organic foods as a whole market, as mentioned by the Horticulture Week.

The report of Soil Association, states that with a sales growth of 4.9%, the sales of organic products in the UK are already at 1.95 billion pounds. 2016 should be the year in which organic food products break the 2 billion pound mark. 83% of the households in Great Britain stated to have bought organic products at some point during the year. The challenge will now be to make it a daily habit.

The 7.5% increase on organic product sales for independent retailers, shows consumers are ready to switch from their supermarket shopping habit to smaller specialized stores. Shoppers will continue to search for the broadest available choice of organic products, pushing more sales into the independent retail sector and online. This tendency will increase as the millennials, people born from 1980 to the early 2000s, become actively employed adults. They are likely to shop for more organic food to fit with their personal health and well-being targets.

Besides independent retailers, online options are becoming more popular. The British online supermarket, Ocado, is a real success story. It registered a net income of 11.8 million pounds last year. Many organic companies are now selling their brands online or through a larger business, such as Amazon.

The UK organic market seems to have recovered very well from its “low”. Between 2010 and 2013 the UK sales of organic products were under 1.8 billion pounds.

Source:, October 27, 2016

Fish and Seafood

Comeback of fresh fish in Germany – thanks to Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

Fresh fish has seen a comeback in the past three years, benefiting the food retail trade in particular, less so the fish specialty trade. This was the conclusion drawn at the press conference of the Fish Information Center. The per-capita consumption of 14.1 kilograms (kg) (2015) was slightly down on the previous year's 14.3 kg.

Germany's fish and seafood consumption remained relatively stable in 2015. “Our forecast, that the average per-capita consumption in 2015 would reach about 14.1 kg, was confirmed by preliminary figures,” said Thomas Lauenroth, CEO of Werner Lauenroth and President of the Fish Information Center (FIZ). In 2014, the average German had consumed 14.3 kg of fish/seafood (catch weight).

Lauenroth was confident that a per-capita consumption of 14.4 kg would be possible in 2016. He further explained that the catch volume of recreational anglers had not been taken into account: “Assuming that they catch and consume about 45,000 tons every year, total consumption would thus amount to 1.2 million tons and correspond to 14.7 kg per capita.” Anglers in the Baltic Sea are nowadays allowed to fish more than commercial fishermen.

Overall, the volumes of fish/seafood in 2015 slightly differed from 2014. Domestic catch and fish/seafood produced by German aquaculture increased by 24,000 tons (an increase of almost 10%) to a total of 273,000 tons. Imports declined slightly, but with a total volume of 1.87 million tons, they accounted for the largest share by far.

Preference for pre-packed fish products

Figures of the Association for Consumer Research (GfK) prove that “the otherwise price-conscious consumers did not lose their appetite for fish and seafood products despite price increases for some products.” The volume purchased rose by 1.0% to 420,811 tons (2014: 416,663 tons). The amount spent on these products rose even more, up 3.1% to a new record level of €3.7 billion. FIZ pointed out that the higher value of goods purchased reflected consumers' recent preference for pre-packed fish products: They purchase higher-priced fish and aquaculture products.

Salmon remains most popular fish

The ranking of the top 5 fish species remained unchanged. The list of the most frequently consumed fish species was headed by salmon with a share of 20.5% (2014: 22.0%), followed by Alaska pollack with 18.3% (2014: 21.4%), and herring with 15.9% (2014: 14.7%). Tuna ranked fourth with 14.1% (2014: 12.4%), with trout occupying fifth place with a share of 6.2% (2014: 5.9%). These fish species together account for 75% of overall fish consumption in Germany, with saltwater fish accounting for 60.3%, freshwater fish for 29.3% and crustaceans/molluscs for 10.4%.

Fish specialty stores / fishmongers lose out

Figures of the GfK further reveal which retail channels consumers prefer for buying fish and seafood products. The lion's share is sold by discounters, which accounted for a market volume of 48.0% in 2015 (2014: 49%). Supermarkets and superstores slightly increased their market share to 38.3% (2014: 36.9%). Fish specialty stores/fishmongers recorded losses, their market share dropping to 5.6% (2014: 6.3%).

With a share of 40.0% of the overall turnover, the discount trade did not quite reach last year's level of 40.8%. Supermarkets and superstores increased their share of turnover from 37.0% to 39.0% in 2015. Fish specialty stores / fishmongers lost 1.3 percentage points, down from 10.2% to 8.9% in 2015. Other purchasing channels together accounted for 12.1%, up from 11.8% in 2014.

Discounters expand share of fresh fish market

Where do consumers buy their fish products? Fresh fish is still primarily bought in supermarkets with a fresh fish counter or refrigerated section (34%), but discounters succeeded in expanding their share of the fresh fish market by 3% to 28%, while the fish specialty trade, once again, suffered losses in this segment: Consumers bought only 20% of their fresh fish at specialty stores/fishmongers, compared to 24% in 2014.

The reason for this shift is the ‘renaissance' of fresh fish, which is due to drip-proof MAP packaging (modified atmosphere packaging). While the total volume of fish and seafood products purchased increased by 6,254 tons between 2013 and 2015, fresh fish and defrosted fish products saw growth of 14,953 tons in the food retail trade. This growth was mainly driven by the discount trade, which recorded an increase of 11,191 tons with MAP products. That corresponds to an increase of 156%, calculated the FIZ. Among the MAP products, salmon clearly dominates with a share of about 70%.

The Big 5 of German fish consumption

Source: FIZ, Data of 2015

Share of fish species in total fish consumption in %

  • Salmon 20.5%
  • Alaska Pollack 18.3%
  • Herring 15.9%
  • Tuna, Bonito 14.1%
  • Trout 6.2%

Source: FischMagazin, 1/2017

Where do consumers buy fish products? (Shares in % 2015)
Fish product Supermarkets and superstores Discounters Fishmongers Other points of sale
Source: GfK Panel Services, prepared by FIZ
All fish 34 49 6 8
Fresh fish 34 28 20 18
Smoked fish 35 46 10 9
Canned fish 40 58 0 2
Fish marinades 40 51 4 5
Frozen fish 39 54 0 7
Other fish 40 42 8 10

European Union-survey of seafood consumption attitudes shows value of sustainability

According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), recent independent research has indicated that sustainability is a key factor in seafood purchasing decisions, often more significant to consumers than other factors like brand or price. More than 16,000 consumers of seafood from 21 countries, including Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom and United States were surveyed. This research was conducted by GlobeScan, an independent firm, on behalf of the MSC. 72% of those surveyed said that they believed seafood should only be consumed from sustainable sources, and 54% were willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products.

The CEO of MSC, Rupert Howes, underscored the importance of sustainability to many shoppers. “These insights demonstrate that seafood consumers are attuned to the need for sustainability and that they are prepared to change shopping habit to protect the oceans,” he said. This environmental awareness is not only important to younger consumers, as one might expect. In fact, older consumers demonstrated an even higher preference for sustainability, with 75% of those surveyed over age 55 saying they would only eat sustainably sourced seafood, as opposed to 67% of those aged 18 to 34.

The survey also noted the importance of labelling to denote sustainability and increase brand trust. More than two-thirds of respondents emphasised the need for stores and brands to back up their sustainability claims with proper verification. While the level of awareness regarding the MSC label varied between countries, the vast majority of respondents (over 80%) expressed trust in the label and the commitment to sustainable fishing that it denotes. Consumers continue to increasingly prioritize environmental impact, which is a positive shift for the sustainability of the seafood industry.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 5/2016

Norway: Record growth in seafood exports

Norway beat all previous records and exported seafood worth NOK65 billion (EUR7.2 billion) this year to September. This is an increase of 26 percent compared with the same period last year. The US, Italy and South Korea are examples of strong growth markets, and they demonstrate the breadth of Norwegian seafood exports; Norway now exports a lot of salmon, trout, cod and crab to the US, whilst Italy, long a stockfish market, has now also developed an appetite for Norwegian salmon.

Norway has exported salmon to a value of NOK44 billion so far this year. This is an increase of 30% or NOK10.1 billion compared to the same period last year. The export price for fresh whole salmon so far this year has been 41% higher than during the same period last year. This is due to a combination of reduced export volumes and a strong demand for Norwegian salmon according to Morten Lindrupsen, an analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council. It is not just the export of salmon which has been good for Norwegian export figures. Fresh cod, including fillets, increased 13% to NOK1.8 billion; herring was up 45% to NOK2.1 billion; and mackerel by 13% to NOK1.8 billion. Kristin Lien, an analyst with the council attributed the rise in herring exports to strong demand and low quotas on European markets, while mackerel prices increased due to demand on Asian markets. Exports of salted fish increased 8% to NOK1 billion and crab by 89% to NOK344 million. Only clipfish exports bucked the trend falling 9% to NOK252 million.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 6/2016

Fish market in Romania expanded in 2016

In 2016, Romania's fish sales expanded by 3% to a total of 350 million. “There have been some positive developments in Romania's fish and seafood industry. Romania is not as fond of fish and seafood as Spain, France and Italy which are the European leaders,” said Cristian Darmaanescu, the chief executive of local fish and seafood distributor Romfood Trading. “However, we have seen a noticeable growth in the consumption of fish over the past three years, and this is a good sign.” Among the reasons for this positive development is the rise in domestic demand and the government's move to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on fish.

As of June 1, 2015, the VAT on fish and various other food products was reduced from the previous rate of 24% to 9%. According to Darmanescu, the Romanian government's decision to cut VAT on various food products, including fish, was possibly the single most important factor to contribute to the rise in domestic fish consumption.

The Romanian fish market is dominated by imports. In a recent report on Romania's fish industry the US Department of Agriculture said that domestic fish supply could not meet the consumers' needs and preferences, and covers less than ¬20% of the total demand. The remainder is covered by imports.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 6/2016

New strategy launched to 'double' size of Scottish aquaculture

A new "roadmap" has been launched in a bid to double the size of Scotland's aquaculture sector within 15 years. Businesses and organisations involved in the sector are seeking to boost the value of Scottish aquaculture from £1.8 billion this year to £3.6 billion by 2030. They estimate this will generate more than 9,000 new jobs for the industry. A working group has launched a new growth strategy, which identifies key actions that are required to achieve the goals.

The group includes representatives of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Scotland Food and Drink, Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers and businesses in the sector. The strategy, which was developed after industry-wide consultation, sets out key recommendations for action by both the industry and government.

Source:, [BBC News], October 31, 2016

UK consumers increasingly place value in chilled seafood

While the intense rivalry between the United Kingdom's leading supermarkets continues to provide savvy shoppers with a generous array of competitively priced food offers, the latest data from the U.K. Seafish Authority suggests that when it comes to seafood, the country's consumers increasingly have a preference and see the most value in the more expensively positioned chilled category.

According to Seafish, retail sales of seafood for in-home consumption topped GBP 3.1 billion (USD 3.8 billion, EUR 3.6 billion) in the 12 months to 3 December 2016, which represented an increase of around 1%. In volume terms, sales equated to 329,626 metric tons (MT) of products or 1.2 million unit sales, up 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. But more tellingly, the authority's figures also highlight that while there was a very slight reduction in the average price paid across retail's leading sales category – chilled seafood – the grocery price war is still to pervade the sector.

Chilled seafood sales grew in value by 3.1% to more than GBP 2 billion (USD 2.4 billion, EUR 2.3 billion) in the aforementioned period, with consumers buying more of these products (volume and units) than they were a year ago. By comparison, the value of the frozen seafood category increased by just 0.6% to GBP 689.4 million (USD 838.7 million, EUR 793.1 million) and ambient seafood sales declined by 7.3% to GBP 423.5 million (USD 515.2 million, EUR 487.2 million). The volumes and units sold in frozen were down 1.2% and 1.4% respectively, and declined by 4.7% and 4.2% in ambient.

The growing divergence in format preference is made starker by the change in market share over the 12-month period. While chilled products had a 64.4% share of grocery sales, up 19.1% year-on-year, the share of sales in the frozen category declined 10.4% to 22% and ambient category's share dropped 8.7% to 13.5%. However, there has been very little new product innovation driving the growth in chilled. Natural unprocessed fish continued to dominate the category with a 37.8% share of sales, up 16.4%, and a total value of GBP 1.2 billion (USD 1.5 billion, EUR 1.4 billion).

In terms of species, the category was led by salmon with sales of GBP 765.2 million (USD 931 million, EUR 880.4 million), up 1.2% year-on-year, based on a volume of 46,247 MT (up 4.6%) and unit sales of 205.8 million (up 2.7%). Salmon was followed by warmwater shrimp and cod with sales values of GBP 185.3 million (USD 225.4 million, EUR 213.2 million) and GBP 180.1 million (USD 219.1 million, EUR 207.2 million) respectively.

The most growth shown in the category over the 12 months, though, was chilled lobster with sales increasing 27.5% to GBP 6.9 million (USD 8.4 million, EUR 7.9 million), the volume sold was up 43.1% to 222 MT and the number of units sold climbed 33% to 705,000. This performance was supported by a near 11% decrease in average price to GBP 31.10 (USD 37.83, EUR 35.78) per kg.

The frozen category was championed by cod product sales, which increased 7.8% in the 12-month period to GBP 201.3 million (USD 244.9 million, EUR 231.6 million) based on a volume of 32,906 MT (up 6.1%), followed by Pollock which fell 16.3% in value to GBP 98.6 million (USD 119.9 million, EUR 113.4 million) and dropped 12.6% in volume to 22,981 MT.

Canned and pouched tuna, meanwhile, dominated ambient sales. But sales of these products were down 7.3% to GBP 267 million (USD 324.7 million, EUR 307.1 million), the volume sold fell 4.8% to 48,904 MT and the number of units sold dropped 3.8% to 134.6 million.

Source:, by Jason Holland, January 16, 2017

Meat market

World Health Organization (WHO) calls for heightened vigilance as avian influenza continues to spread in Europe

WHO is calling for heightened vigilance and strengthened surveillance efforts to prevent and detect potential human cases of avian influenza as it continues to spread in birds across Europe.

“No human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) have been reported so far in European countries, but this does not mean this cannot happen, as past experience tells us,” said Doctor Caroline Brown, Program Manager of Influenza and Other Respiratory Pathogens at WHO/Europe. “Countries reporting outbreaks in birds need to remain vigilant as avian influenza viruses can transmit from animals to humans.”

Europe's outbreaks of influenza A (H5N8) virus in birds

Since June 2016, at least 24 countries in the WHO European Region have reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N8) virus in wild birds and domestic poultry. At least 3 of these countries have reported outbreaks in the last 2 weeks. Outbreaks have also been reported in countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

This is the second time that this virus has caused outbreaks in Europe with the autumn migration of wild birds. The virus was first detected in birds in Asia in 2014, where it has continued to circulate. In June 2016 the virus was detected in waterbirds in the southern part of the Russian Federation, and by September 2016 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations had issued an alert for countries along the West Eurasian and Afro-Eurasian migration routes to watch for this virus.

Like other HPAI viruses, A (H5N8) can cause severe disease in birds, especially chickens. No human cases of avian influenza A (H5N8) have been reported to date. However, because similar influenza subtypes have caused human disease in the past, the possibility of transmission cannot be excluded.

Assessment of the risk of human transmission

The risk of transmission from birds to humans is relatively low. Although no human cases of HPAI A (H5N8) have ever been reported, it is important to remain vigilant.

Most human cases caused by other avian influenza viruses occurred after exposure through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. In areas with reported outbreaks of avian influenza in birds, people at potential risk are those in direct contact with/handling diseased birds and poultry, their carcasses and/or their environment.

Source: WHO, 26-01-2017

Fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables in Germany – mature market with heavy dependence on imports

The German retail trade is convinced that a wide range of fruit and vegetable products is key to attracting customers. No other fresh products are bought more frequently by German households. Fresh fruit and vegetables are bought 2.5 times per week, i.e. during approx. 120 shopping trips per year, which is more than half of the trips dedicated to buying everyday foods.

The Association for Consumer Research (GfK) calculated an increase in turnover of 5 percent for both fruit and vegetables, with sales volumes almost stagnating.

High imports needed
Production volumes 2014/15 (tons)
  Fruit Vegetables
Source: Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE)
Production 1,369 3,393
Imports 7,032 6,839
Exports 2,629 1,339
Consumption 5,396 8,004
Self-sufficiency rate 23.91% 38.16%

Despite the undisputed trend towards regionality and the cultivation and sourcing of fruit and vegetables in Germany, the country still remains heavily dependent on imports. Its self-sufficiency rate is only 24% (for fruit) and 38% (for vegetables), reports the Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE). Market specialists in the fruit and vegetable industry even estimate import quotas to be as high as 80% (for fruit) and 70% (for vegetables).

A lot of products of different origin and quality are imported into Germany. Experts warn, however, of a product shortage in the long run if prices continue their downward spiral. Other markets such as Russia and Asia pay higher prices. Germany, in turn, is considered a mature market with good payment practices.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 5, February 3, 2017

Why Germany's [fresh] produce exports are on the rise

It may be a net importer, but helped by fame for strict quality control, the country's specialties – such as white asparagus and strawberries – are increasingly sought after abroad

About 81 million price-conscious inhabitants with ever higher demands make Germany one of the hardest fought food markets worldwide. And never before has the food in Germany been so safe, inexpensive and diverse as it is today. So reports the German food industry association (BVE) in its 2016 annual report. Food is mainly sold through the retail channel in Germany, where retail sales of food total €154 billion in 2015.

In the past three years, however, sales of food at retail have fallen by 3.8%. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report “Germany Product Brief Fresh Fruits” says Germany's retail market is dominated by five major companies – Edeka (share of food sales in 2015: 25.3%), Rewe (15%), Schwarz Group/Lidl (14.7%), Aldi (11.9%) and Metro (5.4%) – which together account for three quarters of all retail sales and compete fiercely on price and quality. BVE observes that increasingly unstructured eating habits, combined with time pressures and a high degree of mobility, are having an impact on consumer behaviour. Instead of having three meals a day, Germans are increasingly eating at different times to accommodate their busy schedules, and eating out more often. While price was the decisive factor for 59% of German shoppers in 2001, today that is the case for just 52%. BVE also sees a tendency for consumers to buy more consciously – they are buying less products but higher quality ones.

Tropical and exotic fruit sourced worldwide

Home production meets just a portion of German demand for fresh produce, so many imports are needed. The value of its fresh produce imports rose 31% over 2010-2015 to €147 million, but the increase for imports of fruit was even more striking, having lifted from €62 million to €91 million in 2015, an increase of 47%. Germany buys in tropical and exotic fruit from all over the world but vegetables are mainly sourced from its neighbouring countries.

Germany: imports of fresh vegetables and fruit (In million euros)
Imports 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Source: TradeDimension via BE annual report 2015-2016 Markets and Competitions
Total 112 111 116 128 126 147
Vegetables 50 46 48 52 50 56
Fruit 62 65 68 76 76 91
Getting more countries to use Germany as their ‘garden'

Despite its overall fruit and vegetable production being largely insufficient to meet domestic demand, Germany's fruit and vegetables are nevertheless increasingly sought after, reports BVEO, the German Association of Fruit and Vegetable Growers. This is particularly the case for fruit – the value of German fruit exports rose 38% over 2010-2015 to a record value of €18 million. German exports are still at a comparatively modest level, but show a rising trend, according to the BVEO.

It says the reliability and strictly controlled quality of German products is becoming increasingly popular abroad. Examples of German specialities enjoying such popularity are white asparagus, strawberries, and bush berries (such as blueberries, raspberries and currants). Exports of strawberries, for instance, exploded 58% over 2010-2015, rising to 19,000 tons. About half of this volume is sold to EU countries, with Austria, France and the UK the top three markets. Under the motto ‘Germany – Your garden', the BVEO is promoting Germany's versatile range of fruit and vegetables to trade partners. Also helping is a push by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) to enter new markets and promote bilateral trade.

Fruit production in Germany (in 1,000 tons)
Product 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Source: Destatis
Apples 1,070 1,047 1,071 835 898 972 804 1,024 973
Strawberries 153 145 153 151 146 150 143 159 156
Pears 50 38 52 39 47 34 40 42 43
Sweet cherries 35 25 40 31 37 23 25 40 31
Sour cherries 29 15 30 18 22 13 13 17 17
Plums 65 31 73 49 59 36 49 56 47
Mirabelles 6 4 9 4 5 4 7 7 5
Top 10 fruits and vegetables in Germany (2016)
Fruit Vegetables
Source: Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI)
Apples Tomatoes
Bananas Carrots
Oranges Onions
Mandarins Cucumber
Grapes Bell peppers
Melons Iceberg lettuce
Strawberries Asparagus
Pears Mushrooms
Nectarines Zucchini
Peaches Cauliflower

Source: Eurofresh Magazine January/February 2017

UK shoppers buying berries more often

Retail sales of berries and currants in the UK have risen 48.76% in value – from £1.17 billion between 2012 and 2016

Retail sales of berries and currants in the UK (value - £1,000)
Berry or current 52 weeks to 06 December 15 52 weeks to 04 December 16 year/year %
Source: Eurofresh Magazine 1-2/2017
Total berries + currants 1,043,379 1,178,976 13%
Blueberries 257,511 315,740 22.6%
Raspberries 197,920 242,098 22.3%
Strawberries 546,661 577,202 5.6%
Blackberries 30,596 31,621 3.3%
Retail sales of berries and currants in the UK (volume - 1,000kg)
Bery or current 52 weeks to 06 Dec 15 52 weeks to 04 Dec 16 year/year %
Source: Eurofresh Magazine 1-2/2017
Total berries + currants 170,220 185,085 8.7%
Blueberries 28,140 32,944 17.1%
Raspberries 18,358 21,021 14.5%
Strawberries 119,792 127,216 6.2%
Blackberries 2,786 2,656 -4.7%

In the last year alone, the UK berry market grew by 13% in value – an increase worth £135.6 million (€159.2 million) – and by 8.7% in volume over the previous year. This was driven mainly by shoppers buying berries more often, along with a slight increase in price and the number of shoppers, although there was a slight drop in trip volume, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

The market researcher's data for the 52 weeks to December 4, 2016 also shows strawberries continue to bring in the most money, accounting for 49% of the total spend in the berry market. The strawberry market is worth £577.2 million and is the largest of all the berry types. It has seen value growth of 5.6% and volume growth of 6.2% (to 127,216 tons) compared to the 52 weeks ending in December 6, 2015. This has largely been driven by shoppers buying more often and new shoppers entering the market, but has also been stifled by trip volume losses, Kantar Worldpanel said. Blueberries are showing the fastest growth, with sales up 22.6% in value on the past year. This berry now attracts 26.8% of the total berry spend. In terms of volume, the blueberry market has increased 17.1% year over year to 32,944 tons. The growth in the blueberry market has also predominantly been driven by shoppers buying more often, but also by higher prices, and as with strawberry sales, it has also been stifled by lower volumes per trip.

Raspberry sales – up 22.3% to a value of £242 million – have benefitted from shoppers buying raspberries more often, as well as paying higher prices. “New shoppers entering the market have also contributed to the growth of the market,” Kantar Worldpanel said. A total of 21,021 tons of raspberries are estimated to have been sold at retail in the UK in the 52 weeks to last December 4.

The blackberry market, the smallest among those for the four berry types, grew 3.4% in value to £31.6 million, but declined in volume by 4.7%, to 2,656 tons. “Growth is mainly driven by the higher prices of blackberries and shoppers buying more often,” Kantar Worldpanel said.

Source: Eurofresh Magazine January/February 2017

Vegetarian and vegan foods

Germany - The vegan dimension

Already three years ago, Bill Gates announced in his blog that “the future of food is vegan”. The founder of Microsoft encouraged investments in the production of meat replacements.

After this prominent advance into the vegan world, the global financial market went one step further at the end of September 2016: 39 institutional investors with assets totalling €1.1 trillion positioned themselves against 16 multinational listed industry giants such as Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Tesco and Walmart. The Protein Shake-up campaign was organized by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative (FAIRR) and the British organization ShareAction, which support sustainable investments. The alliance calls for new strategies to meet the world's growing demand for protein and for industry to finally produce less meat and more plant protein.

“The world relies too much on animal farming to satisfy its growing hunger for protein. This can lead to financial, social and environmental crises,” explains Jeremy Coller, founder of the investment organization Coller Capital and one of the spokespersons for the alliance. The investor group naturally focuses on economic aspects, but also on ethical and ecological matters. Demand is gradually changing as more and more customers renounce meat and change their shopping habits accordingly, Coller says. He points out that the market for meat-free products is expected to grow by 8.4% annually over the next five years and businesses should take this development into account or risk losing market shares.

The trend towards plant alternatives is not a short-lived hype. The number of people living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is estimated at one billion worldwide. In Germany, too, vegetarian/vegan products can be found in almost every supermarket. And there is no end in sight for this development. Germany has 7.8 million vegetarians and some 900,000 vegans. Market experts estimate that every day sees about 2,000 new vegetarians and 200 new vegans.

Consequently, the product range is steadily growing in Germany, with vegan products currently outstripping the vegetarian range: Market researchers Mintel found that 10% of the food and beverage products sold in Germany are labelled ‘vegan', versus 6% bearing the ‘vegetarian' label. Germany accounted for 36% of all vegan products launched in Europe last year, thus ranking first on the list, followed by the UK (21%), France (7%) and Italy (4%).

In particular young, open-minded consumers are buying vegan alternatives. The young target group is more willing to participate in the vegan trend than other social groups, and they often change their eating habits drastically. Vegan has left its ‘alternative subculture' image far behind and has become mainstream in many larger cities. In Berlin alone, the number of vegan restaurants rose from 28 to 50 in the last two years. The vegan summer festival in Berlin has established itself as the largest in Europe with more than 55,000 visitors. Another 20 vegan events took place all over Germany last year.

Supermarkets have clearly benefited from this run on plant alternatives, says the Cologne Institute for Trade Research (Kölner Institut für Handelsforschung). Every third consumer buys his or her vegetarian and vegan products in a supermarket, followed by superstores, organic supermarkets and discounters with market shares of between 17 and 12 percent.

The change in consumption habits is not just a short-term trend, but represents a thorough reconsideration of alternatives to the current form of animal production. This year saw the first retailers launching their own plant-based product lines: Edeka introduced Bio+Vegan and Famila and Markant launched Vegan Leben. Globus, Metro, Edeka, Kaiser's Tengelmann and DM list the Berlin-based vegan brand Veganz.

A fundamental thinking process is also taking place in the vegan scene itself. So far ‘vegan' has designated an entirely plant-based food product. There are currently no regulations in place that take vegan aspects of the agricultural production process into account. It has not mattered whether or not vegetables were fertilized with cow's dung. This seems to be changing now.

At the beginning of the year, when looking for examples of entirely animal-free organic production, the vegan society came across biocyclic farming in Greece, which only uses plant-based fertilizer. Since then, the Association for a Vegan Lifestyle (Bund für vegane Lebensweise e. V. – BVL), the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Shared World (Albert-Schweitzer-Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt), the Vegetarian Association in Germany (Vegetarierbund Deutschland e. V.), the Organic Vegan Network (Biovegane Netzwerk) and agricultural scientists have been cooperating with Greek organic farmers.

For more information on biocyclic farming, please refer to the website of the Biocyclic Network at

New vegan/vegetarian products in Germany
  • Vegan 10%
  • Vegetarian 6%
New vegan/vegetarian products in Europe
  • Vegan 5%
  • Vegetarian 9%

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 46, November 18, 2016

German discounters record increase in turnover with vegetarian and vegan products

A growing number of consumers are buying vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes at food retailers, discounters and drugstores.

The food retail trade (incl. drugstores) sold vegetarian products worth €641 million, representing an increase of 24% over the previous year. Be it meat substitutes from the self-service section, cheese, fine food, dairy products, ice cream or frozen food, the turnover with vegetarian alternatives rose steeply, thus fuelling overall growth in each of the categories.

In absolute terms, strongest growth was realized with vegan/vegetarian meat substitute products from the self-service section: Due to an expanded product line, the food retail trade recorded an increase in turnover of €33 million. While dairy products still account for the largest share of vegetarian/vegan turnover with 37%, their share has declined due to the dynamic development of chilled vegetarian fine foods and vegetarian wet products.

Turnover in this product segment has been further boosted by a growing number of products and additional distribution channels for products already listed. Superstores remain the most important sales channel, their revenue accounting for almost every second euro spent in this segment (47%). Yet, although growth remained in the double-digit range, the pace has been slowing down with superstores losing market shares to the discount trade. Discounters distinguished themselves with above-average growth and an increase in turnover of 43% by the end of September 2016, which made them the fastest growing distribution channel for vegetarian products.

In addition to brand products, private labels are gaining ground in the vegetarian segment: Almost two thirds of the growth in turnover in the food retail trade was realized with private labels. Discounters pushed private labels even more, increasing the share of private labels from 26% to 33% in the market as a whole (food retail + drugstores).

Discount market fuelling the veggie segment - Change in turnover in million EUR and %
  Change in turnover (millions) Change in turnover %
Source: Nielsen Trade Panel
Food retail trade and drugstores (€641 million) +€122 24%
Consumer markets +€ 43 17%
Supermarkets +€15 21%
Discounters +€59 43%
Drugstores +€6 11%

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 46, November 18, 2016


German confectionery sales: value and volume increased in 2016

Retailers in Germany should be satisfied with the development of confectionery sales for 2016. According to the Information Resources Inc (IRI) confectionery monitor (basis: food retailers + drugstores + hard discounters + gas station shops), revenue from confectionery sales increased by 3.6% to €12.624 billion. Quantities sold increased by 2.6% over last year to 1.734 million tons.

For the strongest category, chocolate products (without season), market researchers at IRI calculated revenue growth of 2.5% to €5.656 billion, and the sales volume sank slightly by 0.2% to 575,010 tons. Sales increased more than average for the chocolate tablet sector (+4.9%) and particularly in the important 100 g segment (+7.4%). Clearly in second place and once again with the highest growth rates are salty snacks: sales increased by 7.0% to €2.836 billion, and volumes increased by 7.4% to 374,813 tons.

At €2.14 billion, sales for pastry & cake increased by 4.0% over the previous year, and volumes were up by 3.3% to 419,220 tons. With sugar confectionery sales at €1,992 billion (+1.7%) and a volume of 365,318 tons (+1.9%), the largest sub-segment fruit gums/foam sugar/liquorice increased slightly above average (value +2.0%, volume +2.9%). In contrast, the product group chewing gum remained at 1% below the previous year's value at €487.5 million, while sales volume remained stable at 350 million units (−0.1%).

Development of sweets/confectionery by segment
Segment Turnover in € million Change year/year
Source: IRI, January – December 2016
Total 12,624.0 3.6%
Chocolate products excluding season (total) 5,655.7 2.5%
Chocolate tablets 1,660.8 4.9%
Pralines 1,590.4 -0.7%
Bars 1,381.9 2.2%
Small bites 384.9 7.5%
Chilled bars 299.4 6.0%
Salty snacks (total) 2,836.4 7.0%
Sweet bakery and cakes (total) 2,139.7 4.0%
Sweet bakery 1,369.2 3.1%
Cakes/cake bases 770.5 5.7%
Confectionery (total) 1,992.2 1.7%
Jelly gums, liquorice 968.9 2.0%
Candy 613.1 1.0%
Turnover of sweets/confectionery by distributional channel

Source: Nielsen, basis: January – October 2016

  • Discounters 46.6%
  • Department stores 0.7%
  • Gas stations 4.1%
  • Drugstores 4.4%
  • Supermarkets 10.3%
  • Consumer markets 33.9%

Source: Sweets Global Network 2/2017

Europe's confectionery most expensive in Norway

Sales prices on the European confectionery market have risen by 2.8% according to the Nielsen European Confectionery Price Barometer. This average value was assessed in the observation period lasting from October 2015 to October 2016. The calculations behind the finding are based on one shopping basket containing the same 16 products in 20 European countries.

As in earlier surveys, consumers in Norway paid the most by far for the shopping basket, where the 16 selected products cost €50.31. The price increase there during the survey period of 11.8% was also huge compared to the other European countries. The average price for the shopping basket in the 20 countries surveyed was €28.30. In Germany the same shopping basket remained unchanged as the least expensive in the survey at €20.87, with the price increasing from October 2015 to October 2016 by 1.2%. After Norway, Nielsen cited the biggest price increase rates in the Czech Republic (+5.5%), Romania (+4.3%) and Slovakia (+3.9%). The countries where the price of the shopping basket was less expensive than in the same period for the previous year were only Spain (−2.4%), Sweden (−1.9%) and Bulgaria (−0.6%).

Nielsen analyzed the sales prices in hypermarkets and supermarkets to determine the European Confectionery Price Barometer. Discounters were not included in the survey. The basis for the analysis was the price per package including value added tax (VAT) per assessed product in the 20 countries. Adjustments were made accordingly for different sized packages.

The shopping basket contained the following top confectionery products available in all 20 countries from the categories sugar confectionery, chocolate products, salty snacks and sweet baked goods: Fisherman's Friend Regular Mint 25 gram (g), Mentos Single Pack 38 g, Tic Tac Fresh Mints 1 box 18 g, Haribo Gold Bears Fruit 300 g bag, Mars Bar Chocolate 51 g, Kinder Surprise Eggs 20 g, Nutella Normal Hazelnut 400 g, Ritter Sport Nuts Milk Chocolate 100 g, Lindt Excellence 100 g, Pringles Snacks Original Salted 165 g, Lays Chips large size 150 g, TUC Cracker 100 g, Kraft Foods/Mondelez Oreo 176 g, Prince/Prinzenrolle Danone/Griesson – de Beukelaer 400 g and Bahlsen Choco Leibniz Milk 125 g.

Nielsen only removed the product Wrigley's “5” twelve pellets form the shopping basket compared to the 2014 Price Barometer.

EU confectionery price barometer 2016 - Index ranking October 2015/16

  • Norway 178
  • Denmark 132
  • Switzerland 122
  • Russia 109
  • Greece 104
  • Sweden 102
  • Slovakia 101
  • All 20 countries 100
  • Belgium 97
  • Hungary 97
  • Spain 97
  • Bulgaria 94
  • Austria 93
  • Italy 92
  • Czech Republic 88
  • United Kingdom 87
  • Netherlands 86
  • France 83
  • Poland 82
  • Romania 82
  • Germany 74

Source: Sweets Global Network 2/2017

Beverages - Wine

A snapshot of the German wine market

Germany is a country that produces its own wine. However, unlike many other wine-producing countries, domestic production falls far short of satisfying the consumption of the German population.

Moreover, the limited production means that Germany is the largest importer of wine by volume in the world. Although the United States is ahead in value terms, the German market imports the largest volume, at around 16 million hectolitres (hL). However, not everything that is imported stays in the country. Around 3m hL are re-exported, mostly in the form of low-price wines for the European food retail sector, which are bottled by the large German bottling wineries acting as subcontractors for the companies concerned. Also contributing to this are the German-based retail groups Aldi, Lidl, Rewe and Edeka, which take their existing wine suppliers with them when they expand their business models abroad. The structure and importance of sales channels on the German market are discussed in more detail below.

The market structure

An analysis of the wine trade balance based on key market indicators gives a first impression of the structure of the German wine market. German wine production, taken as an average over several years, amounts to 8.7 million hL. At 8.5 million to 8.7 million hL, 2016 will be a below-average wine year in Germany, offering wine importers more scope than in years when Germany produces a significantly larger quantity. However, it has been a long time since Germany produced more than 10m hL of wine and, in general, production is now significantly lower and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Of the approximately 8.7 million hL, around 1 million hL of wine are exported, with the United States, the UK, Benelux and the Scandinavian countries the main export destinations. This leaves around 7.7 million hL of German wines for the German market, which are consumed domestically. The volume of net imports, i.e. net of re-exports, amounts to around 13 million hL, meaning that about 20.5 million to 21 million hL of wine are available to German consumers. Calculating this volume against the population of 82m people, from infants to the elderly, results in a per capita consumption of 24 litres (L) to 25 L. This is more wine than Spaniards, Americans or British people drink, but less than the French, Italians, Belgians or Swiss.

Sparkling wines accounted for approximately four litres of this, including some 12 millioin bottles of Champagne. Sparkling wines are popular with German consumers and are still the custom at formal occasions and family gatherings. Sparkling wine consumption is event-related and producers are well aware of this, promoting consumption for holidays, weddings or office parties.

Still wine consumption, at around 20 L per capita, is made up of 40% German wines and 60% imported wines. Of this, the three great Mediterranean wine countries, Italy, France and Spain, each account for around a quarter. The remainder is made up of wines from the New World, (South Africa, Australia, Chile and the United States/California) as well as some traditional nearby countries such as Austria, Portugal, Macedonia, Hungary and Greece. Which of these takes the lead is decided from year to year based on how competitively priced their wines are and the export and promotional activities undertaken by the wine country or its producers.

The German wine market has one factor in its favour: it is open to wines from every country and does not have any barriers to trade. Anyone can import, provided they satisfy the international requirements in terms of quality and control.

Just as the overall market gives a complex picture due to the large number of participants from different wine-producing countries, the trading structures are also very varied.

Where people buy wine

The easiest to understand is the food retail sector, which is essentially divided into two areas: The discounters Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord, Lidl, Netto, Norma and Penny on the one hand and, on the other, the supermarket trade now shared by the two major cooperatives that are managed as businesses, Rewe (Cologne) and Edeka (Hamburg). The third member of the supermarket trade is the Metro Group, which has been undergoing restructuring processes at its cash & carry stores and supermarkets for years.

Edeka, the largest food retail group in Germany, consists of seven regional companies, which have a certain amount of autonomy and maintain regional structures alongside the central procurement.

The food retail sector, including both the discounters and the supermarkets, accounts for about 50% to 60% of all wine sales and a large part of the sparkling wine sales. The remaining 40% to 50% of the market is divided among wineries that sell directly, the restaurant trade and specialist wine retailers. Around 15% of all the wine in Germany is sold via the restaurant trade, about 10% via the specialist trade and 15% to 20% of all wines are purchased directly from producers.

Prices lie at very different levels, depending on the sales channel. The food retail sector, including discounters, achieved average prices of €2.92 per litre in 2016. When buying directly from the producer, consumers pay significantly more, at €6.23 per Litre, and sales prices are even higher in specialist wine shops. Those wishing to enter the German market therefore have to decide which sales channel they want to use.

Population trends will have a significant impact on future wine consumption. The German population is decreasing slightly and the age pyramid is shifting towards the older generations. However, these consume more wine than the younger generations. This effect means that the consumption of wine (excluding sparkling wines) will remain at the pleasing level of around 21 L per capita up to 2060.

Structure of wine retail outlets in Germany
Category Number of companies
Source: Trade Dimensions, 2016, WEINWIRTSCHAFT
Self-marketing wineries 8,000
Specialist shops, online, mail order 2,500
Discounter stores 16,000
Food retail stores 19,500
Drugstores 4,500
Sales in million bottles
2015 2016 Change in %
Source: Nielsen, Lebensmittel Zeitung #10, March 10, 2017
Wine 1,283 1,279 −0.4%
White wine 550 563 2.4%
Red wine 597 584 −2.2%
Rosé 136 132 −3.3%

Source:, October 19, 2016, editor: Doctor Hermann Pilz, editor-in-chief of Weinwirtschaft magazine.

German wine sales: Weak performance of the food retail trade

According to the market research institute Nielsen, the German food retail trade (including. discount and drugstores) sold significantly less wine last year than in 2015. Throughout all wine categories (red, white and rosé) sales were down by 2.3%, with turnover figures dropping by 3.3%. However, Nielsen's data for 2015 is based on a calendar year of 53 calendar weeks, while the figures for 2016 relate to 52 weeks only, thus one week less. But when taking this difference into account, sales in 2016 still remained behind previous year's figures: Sales were down by 0.4%, and the turnover decreased by 1.3%. The fact that the decline in turnover was higher than the drop in sales implies that the trend of 2015 towards higher average bottle prices has come to a halt.

The strongest losses in sales and turnover were recorded for hard discounters Aldi, Lidl and Netto last year. Their share of turnover decreased from 38.5% in 2015 to 37.3% in 2016, with the sales share going down from 46.9 to 46.7%. Last year's winners were small, regional consumer markets whose share of turnover increased from 14.9% to 15.7%, with their sales share rising from 11.5% to 11.9%. All the important wine growing regions, except for South Africa, which grew at the expense of the United States, recorded losses in turnover last year. Macedonia (−24.5%), the United States (−12.7%), France (−8.1%), Chile (−7.5%) and Austria (−5.5%) were particularly affected. Losses were less strong for Spanish (−2.3% in turnover), German (−2.1% in turnover) and Italian wines (−1. 4% in turnover). The category of EU wines increased by 4.1 percentage points.

Nielsen further calculated sales increases for Spanish wines (+3.6%) and EU wines, whose sales rose by 12.6%. At the same time, turnover figures developed less positively (Spain: −2.3%, EU wines: +4.1%), which indicates that sales increases were at the expense of sales prices. However, when evaluating turnover and sales figures for 2016, the 53th calendar week has once again to be taken into account, as it lets the figures for 2016 appear (even) more negative than they really are.

Source: Weinwirtschaft, March 14, 2017

German wine imports in decline

Germany imported 2.4% less wine between October 2015 and September 2015 than in the same period of the previous year. The German Wine Growers' Association reported that volumes from two major import countries had dropped significantly: Wines from France declined by 4.4%, while Spanish wines were down by 5.1%. Only wines from Italy recorded a marginal increase of 1.9%. Germany's most important supplier country outside the EU, South Africa, shipped 6.4% less wine.

A significant share of wine imports are re-exported: In 2015, of the total import volume of 14 million hectolitres, about 2.2 million hectolitres were re-exported, accounting for a sales value of half a billion euros.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 51, December 23, 2016


Price increase in European Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) products at record low

The price increase seen with FMCG such as foodstuffs, beverages and hygiene products is at a record low throughout Europe, as demonstrated by Nielsen's latest figures. In the second quarter of 2016, the prices for FMCG products in Europe were up just 0.7% compared to last year's level. At the same time, sales rose 0.1%, which is the lowest performance in two years. This means that retailers saw a rise in profit of 0.8%, representing the lowest growth rate since the first measurement in the first quarter of 2008 (change in the value of goods = change in price that consumers pay for a product including a value difference resulting from price inflation and/or purchase of substitute products). Among the 21 countries evaluated, Turkey once again showed the highest growth with an increase of 8.9% compared to the previous year, followed by Norway (+3.5%) and Sweden (+3.2%). On the other hand, the strongest slump was posted by Greece (-7.2%) and Finland (−4.6%) (nominal growth in value or till money fluctuations = change in value of a product + change in sales).

Northern Europe, the problem child

If one looks at the five major Western European markets, Spain is in the lead with an increase of 2.1%, followed by Italy (+1.2%), France (+0.5%) and Germany (+0.3%), while the United Kingdom recorded a decline of 1.6%. “There are two reasons for the historically low figures we're seeing”, commented Jean-Jacques Vendenheede, Director of Retail Insights Nielsen Europe. “The first being a seasonal effect. Easter is not included in the second quarter. The second reason, which is much more important, is the very meagre growth posted by France and Germany, plus the nosedive in the UK which is driven by the massive price pressure felt by the dealers. The poor performance throughout Europe was mostly blamed on Southern Europe, although Northern Europe is much more of a problem child at the moment.”

About the Nielsen Growth Reporter

The Nielsen Growth Reporter compares market developments (nominal value and units) in the FMCG sector throughout Europe. The reporter is based on turnover data that Nielsen gathers in 21 European markets, covering sales via the distribution channels food retailer, hypermarket, supermarket, discounter and convenience. It is compiled on the basis of the largest possible consumer basket of product classes that Nielsen is continuously tracking across each of these countries and distribution channels.

Q2 2016 FMCG growth rates per country (versus Q2 2015)

Source: Nielsen Growth Reporter

  • Greece 7.2%
  • Finland 4.6%
  • United Kingdom 1.6%
  • Switzerland 0.9%
  • Austria 0.8%
  • Belgium 0.0%
  • Denmark 0.3%
  • Germany 0.3%
  • Portugal 0.3%
  • France 0.5%
  • Netherlands 0.9%
  • Slovakia 1.0%
  • Italy 1.2%
  • Czech Republic 1.7%
  • Spain 2.1%
  • Hungary 2.5%
  • Ireland 2.6%
  • Poland 2.9%
  • Sweden 3.2%
  • Norway 3.5%
  • Turkey 8.9%

Source: Sweets Global Network 11/2016

Non-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Foods

“Non-GMO” with double-digit growth in Germany

The trend towards foods free from genetically modified organisms (GMO) is unbroken. According to the Industry Association For Non-GMO Food (VLOG), the number of food products bearing the ‘non-GMO' logo increased by 71 percent last year. The number of companies using the ‘non-GMO' or ‘VLOG-certified' seal rose by 40 percent. The association recorded an increase in membership of 42 percent.

The non-GMO trend is fuelled by the conversion of the dairy segment in the food retail trade, driven by the initiative of discounter Lidl. The company announced it would soon extend its non-GMO line to natural and Greek yogurt, Skyr and cottage cheese in all of their outlets.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 4, January 27, 2017

Germany: Industry pushing GMO-free range

Strong expansion of product lines – Food retail trade bears part of additional costs – initial inroads for beef

Milk is currently what beef soon could be: The triumph of non-GMO food is ongoing and gradually extending to other segments. Experts say it has become a marketing instrument for the food retail trade.

The range of GMO-free food is growing at a record pace. More than 4,500 products are currently registered as ‘non-GMO', reports the Association For Non-GMO Food (VLOG). Between June 2015 and June 216 alone, the number soared from 2,000 to 4,000. Association Director Alexander Hissting speaks of a ‘very dynamic development'.

Experts say that the dairy segment is responsible for the current boom. Lidl's announcement last summer to only sell GMO-free fresh milk under their own private label and to gradually extend the standard to other dairy products has put retailers under pressure. “We are seeing a veritable race in the food retail trade,” observes Hissting. “Be it full-range supermarkets or discounters, everyone wants to establish high standards and be the first to convert its private label segment, or part of it, to non-GMO.”

Hissting expects the conversion in the dairy segment to be completed by the end of 2017. Seven out of the ten largest dairies are already members and/or licensees of the VLOG – and the trend is growing.

According to the Association, it is also in discussions with additional dairies. And once the conversion in the milk segment has been completed, retailers will be able to concentrate on other categories. It is evident that there are areas where the conversion to non-GMO has, for obvious reasons, already begun or would be relatively easy to implement.

The producer organizations Traunstein and Miesbach, for example, sell GMO-free beef, a logical consequence as this is the second use of dairy cows that have already given GMO-free milk. There is also potential in the aquaculture sector. Feed producers state that fish feed is already GMO-free and only requires testing and licensing.

The situation is much more difficult in the pork sector, explains Hissting – although this is where the greatest impact on feeding with soy meal, which is often genetically modified, could be achieved. VLOG reports that of the 4.5 million tons of soy meal fed to animals in Germany each year, 2.6 million tons are destined for pig feeding. The problem is that, unlike the poultry industry, which is a trailblazer in the non-GMO field, the pork industry is not vertically integrated. Pig producers are not bound to specific feed suppliers or slaughterhouses. Besides, their ultimate goal is the marketing of the whole animal, but consumers don't seem to be prepared to pay more for all GMO-free meat cuts. The association is convinced, however, that things will change sooner or later, as is the case with the UK retailer Waitrose. Their strategy is to offer all of their private label animal products in non-GMO quality.

It is a fact that Lidl, Kaufland, Rewe, Edeka and Aldi Sued have officially committed to becoming GMO-free. Although market researchers observe that the willingness of end consumers to pay more for GMO-free food is still low, the trend has not slowed down. Hissting is convinced that awareness of the Ohne Gentechnik (GMO-free) label has increased and the added value is obvious. “The food retail trade has identified ‘GMO-free' as a marketing instrument and is thus prepared to bear the additional costs, if necessary,” he adds.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 44, November 2016


American lobster not on EU list of alien invasive species

The European Union has decided to reject a Swedish attempt to have the American lobster declared an invasive species. This is means that the American lobster has not been included in the European Commission's proposal for a new updated EU list of invasive species, and therefore there is no ban on imports of live American lobster to the EU. Last spring, Sweden submitted a proposal to the European Commission for American lobster (Homarus americanus) to be added to the EU list of invasive alien species. The Swedish risk assessment, submitted to the EU's scientific forum for invasive alien species, was approved, which means that it meets the scientific criteria to be listed. The Commission has since been guiding discussions with EU Member States on implementation. At a meeting of the implementation committee, demonstrated that there was no support among the EU Member States to list American lobster as the consequence, in the form of a ban on imports, was deemed disproportionate at EU level.

Björn Sjöberg from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management said that the suggestion was that less trade restrictive measures should be examined, such as national or regional measures, and coordinating the efforts with neighboring countries, industry and stakeholders. In Sweden, it is forbidden to release live, imported lobsters in the sea, although it is difficult to monitor such a ban. Since 2008, more than 30 specimens of American lobster have been found along the west coast, most in Gullmarsfjorden at Lysekil, including a female carrying hybrid eggs. The researchers believe that there may be many more in Swedish waters.

The American lobster can spread disease and form hybrids with the European lobster. There is also a risk that diseases and parasites could be spread to other seafood than lobster, such as crab and langoustine. American lobsters have also been found in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and the UK.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 6/2016

EU organic regulation review: strong disagreement among EU agriculture ministers

On December 7, 2016, EU agriculture ministers again failed to find agreement on the proposal for a new organic regulation. The council took note of the Progress Report presented by the Slovak Presidency and intensely debated how to proceed, but no consensus was reached.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) EU President Christopher Stopes said: “Two years ago, Commission Vice-President Timmermans said that if there was no agreement in six months he would withdraw the proposal. Twenty-four months later there is still no end in sight. Opinions among the Commission, Council and Parliament as well as among Member States themselves diverge on many key topics, including thresholds, greenhouse production, seeds and derogations. This lack of agreement on the direction for the new organic regulation demonstrates what stakeholders have been saying since the beginning: the Commission's proposal is too flawed to provide a good basis for discussion.”

IFOAM EU Board Member and organic farmer Sylvie Dulong said: “Organic farmers and food producers have been working with agriculture systems for more than one hundred years. Since that time, we have been creating ever better standards for ourselves in the spirit of continual improvement and we will continue to do so. After all, it was the organic sector that asked for an EU organic regulation more than 25 years ago to provide a common basis across Europe.”

IFOAM EU Vice-President Jan Plagge said: “Despite the uncertainty created by the current situation, farmers and citizens are increasingly choosing organic. To strengthen their impact and to deliver on the environmental and social goals the EU has set for itself concerning agriculture, we need a stable regulation that improves on today's regulation and that actually supports organic development. We need a new approach to the process that starts from the day-to-day reality of organic operators and the vast expertise in regulation and standards held by organic stakeholders.”

Source:, December 14, 2016

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