THINK TANK: Healthy Food Interviews

Organic farming: an endless source of inspiration

ITW with Olivier Clanchin, CEO of Triballat Noyal

What are the specific characteristics of the French organic market?

It is a market that has changed profoundly since the turn of the century, with the arrival of organic products in mass retail generating a democratisation of the organic label. At the same time, several events have led to the spotlight been trained on organic produce: the successive health crises in recent years, along with the Grenelle environmental reforms, which have brought organic food to the forefront of public debate. Today, France is the second-largest country in Europe for organic food, with annual two-figure growth and largely stable distribution between the various retail networks. While mass retail represents 40% of sales, the specialised retail network also accounts for 40% market share, with the remaining 20% attributable to the various direct sales circuits. With highly organised structures, strict and detailed product specifications, and a logo that is widely-recognised by consumers, the organic market today is going from strength to strength, while still offering plenty of margin for progress.

We get the impression that there are no limits to the progress of organic food production... what do you think?

If we consider the overall market share of organic food, a certain rule becomes apparent: the more basic the product, the higher the market share. Yet when you look more closely, product by product, you can see that organic still remains a niche market. For example, organic milk only represents 5% of the market; likewise for eggs. Basically, this is fairly meagre. It would not surprise me if this market share were ultimately to attain 15 to 20%. So you can see that there is enormous room for growth! What is more, the quality requirements of organic farming have inspired others. Thanks to organic food, biodiversity and sustained agriculture have become hot topics. Organic food production is a virtuous circle with positive consequences for conventional farming too!


Could organic farming ultimately outstrip conventional farming?

I don’t think the question lies there. What counts, is that organic farming should be inspirational. And I believe that it will continue to be so, driving forward changes in the practices and models of production and distribution, while remaining true to the logic of value creation. Rather than talking in terms of substitution, I believe that what we are witnessing here is more a matter of inspiration.


How can this organic boom be explained in terms of trends or values?

Organic farming means a return to common sense, manifested by a strong demand for local or seasonal produce. It also translates into the desire to restore a balanced diet. To give a concrete example of this, nutritionists stress that it is preferable to vary your protein intake: ideally, 50% plant origin and 50% animal origin. Many consumers are taking account of these recommendations, and re-adapting their dietary behaviour and their modes of consumption. Organic farming is a vehicle for this common sense, this desire to reconnect with nature and with your body. It is up to the manufacturers to propose solutions to take account of both the desire for good food and the health dimension.


What is your advice for succeeding in France?

The emphasis has to be on local channels and on the terroir, but also on demonstrating originality by developing new products that make sense. Consumers are not looking for copies of existing successes, but for inspirational products! A French yoghurt made from cow's milk that is sold in Germany makes no sense at all to me. However, offering ewe's milk yoghurt in Germany does make sense, since that country has very few dairy sheep farms. We therefore need to move toward more sophisticated products and profit from the fact that we are faced with consumers with high demands and keen to try new flavours. Triballat Noyal has therefore developed in France hemp-based products, which could do really well in export! Another lever is to develop a genuine CSR approach centred on proximity and commitment.

The Canadian Functional Foods and Natural Health Products Sector

ITW with Tia Loftsgard, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association


I just want to give you a few quick insights, with some regards to why the organic market in Canada is so exciting. We are the 5th largest market in the world. We also have high consumer trust in what’s happening in the production methods of organic products, landing to a trust rating of 48% in Canada, as well as being a leading exporter. « … »at the SIAL show is what we do aroung the world, in different coutries including Canada. It has been a very successfull partnership for us. We look forward to doing much more events and activities, in order to educate buyers and connect businesses, as we continue to partner with the SIAL.