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Organic products in demand

Switzerland has a shortage of organically produced milk and meat. Even though sales of organic products shot up by 14 per cent last year, it was not enough to satisfy consumer demand.

This content was published on March 28, 2000 - 21:03

Switzerland has a shortage of organically produced milk and meat. Even though sales of organic products shot up by 14 per cent last year, it was not enough to satisfy consumer demand. Switzerland has the second biggest number of organic producers in the world behind Austria.

The producers association, Bio Suisse, says organic produce is in great demand, particularly milk, meat and cereals. However its managing director, Christof Dietler, said Swiss farms at the moment can not meet that demand, even though sales went up to SFr 656 million last year.

The retail chain, Coop, was the clear market leader with an increase in sales of SFr 62 million, while the largest Swiss retailer, Migros, saw its sales rise by SFr 15 million. Dietler said the prospects for the future were good. He said organic produce have a market potential of 5 per cent or nearly SFr 2 billion. But he warned, "Farmers will have to dramatically cut back costs if they want to remain competitive in a liberalised agricultural market."

Latest figures show there are 5,282 farms, an increase of 265 (or about 8 percent) over the year. "We want to become number one in the world", Dietler added, but he noted that the growth rate has slowed down.

Bio Suisse said it plans to expand its range of products to ready-made goods to accommodate consumers. He stressed that in this case, it would be important to adhere to environmentally friendly principles for packaging the products.

The association also said that organic products are particularly popular among women. They are more accepted in the German-speaking part than in the French and Italian-speaking regions. It said a series of health scares over contaminated food in Europe had contributed to the commercial success.

Bio Suisse said approval of the bilateral accords with the European Union in a nationwide vote in May would help boost sales of Swiss products, because administrative barriers will come down. It said the aim was to establish organic labelling on a European level.

swissinfo and agencies

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