Organic Articles: Biofach: People Not Products

The Organic Consultancy

Biofach: People Not Products

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the April 2002 edition of Organic Business.

Once again the organic trade descended on Nuremburg for four days of intense buying, selling, meeting, partying and sausages. And like last year innovative organic products were in short supply, although the Germans seemed to be getting inexplicably excited about organic pickled eggs (I preferred the organic Amaretto). Partially hidden by the myriad organic olive oils and tomato sauces there were some genuinely exciting initiatives getting underway.

International networks were much in evidence. The Soil Association held a well received open meeting with other certifiers to explain about their Organic Certification Equivalence programme – what it is and why it matters (and what other certifiers need to do to comply). Certifying body sat down with certifying body and the results can only be helpful to those of us who wish to promote organic trade. The highlight of my first evening in Nuremburg was the inaugural dinner of the International Organic Network (ION), a loose and informal gathering of organic consultants from around the world. Around the table we had representatives from Finland, Belgium, the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany and Italy, allowing international organic understanding to be advanced for the cost of a plate of pasta.

The UK contingent at Biofach appeared considerably diminished from last year, both in number of stands and visitors. However some UK companies were exhibiting on the stands of their German distributors, indicating that despite the strength of the pound the UK organic sector is delivering at least some export sales.

Organic non-food products continued to proliferate with a whole new hall this year. I was very taken with Eosta’s organic flowers, already selling in the UK through Waitrose. Eosta claim that producing flowers organically is better for the health of both the planet and of the people who grow and pack the flowers. They also claim that flowers produced without pesticides last longer. Nonetheless the sales of organic flowers will give a useful indication on how many outward-looking organic consumers are out there. Since organic flowers can make no obvious difference to personal health they are an altruistic purchase, where the price premium paid makes the world a better place for other people. I wish Eosta well, but in the UK I think it will be a challenge. With the launch of the Soil Association organic body care standards could 2002 be the year that organic becomes established in the UK as being more than food and drink?

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy