While the organic fresh produce industry is certainly not exempt from inflation, the overall market is still showing strong growth in the USA. Every organic category is performing differently, though. This was one of the conclusions from an expert session at the Organic Produce Summit in Monterey in July. “We’re seeing the largest price gap between conventional and organic in less-established markets like melon,” states David Perie, Account Manager at Rijk Zwaan USA.
With organic produce currently accounting for just 1.5% of production in Flanders, three local farmers’ organisations have devised a plan to significantly increase this share. Koen T’Syen, organic specialist at Rijk Zwaan: “Closer collaboration in the value chain can achieve the most impact. Supermarket chain Colruyt’s project to sell locally grown organic melons is a great example of this. We can move a step closer to the targets by working together.”
Better risk management, more biodiversity and reduction of pests and diseases – these are just some of the benefits of strip cropping. A number of organic farmers are putting this new cultivation method into practice in the Netherlands. One of them is agricultural company Erf BV, on one hundred hectares. The method is being trialled in other European countries too. “It results in more stable yields with the same amount of labour. But it also requires extra knowledge and a different approach,” says Dirk van Apeldoorn, lecturer and researcher at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).
In May 2022, a new campaign is being launched to encourage consumers in the Netherlands, Flanders, Finland and Sweden to buy more organic products. It is based on collaboration between supermarkets and other value chain partners including Rijk Zwaan. “We want to awaken the conscience of concerned citizens inside supermarkets, and we will use nudging to help us,” says Michaël Wilde, Director of Bionext, the Dutch branch organisation for the organic food and farming sector.
Vegetable growers in Senegal, West Africa, are becoming increasingly sustainable. Some growers have even switched entirely to organic production. “We are doing this for our children’s health. Vegetables grown without pesticides can be eaten straight after harvesting,” according to four female members of the Groupement d’Intérêt Économique (Economic Interest Group/GIE) Book Xalat in Keur Matar. In Manko Pout, Tsai Dieye grows vegetables on 100 hectares. She is also aiming to go 100% organic because she wants to regenerate her land, plus she believes it is ultimately better for plant health.
Organic consumers are big fans of carrots thanks to their versatility and they also love beetroot due to the appealing flavour and colour. Organic growers of these crops should choose strong varieties that have dark, upright leaves. Here, the specialists from Rijk Zwaan talk about which varieties they recommend for various markets and climates.