But there are a number of interesting results: Households in Germany spent around 4.3% more money on organic food and beverages in the first half of 2018. The hypermarkets, discounters and drugstores were the main beneficiaries. By contrast, the farm shops and the remaining canals declined.

The discounters and hypermarkets are expanding their organic range and are thus increasingly competing with the organic food trade and other shopping outlets, which is already clearly noticeable in terms of the sales of these stores. Organic flour and butter were the most successful product groups in the first half of 2018, but the latter were price-driven. For organic fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, it was less successful than in previous years. For many crops, crop yields were smaller, but prices were stable.

Full-range producers score points with high-priced organic products

As in the previous year, full-line retailers recorded the largest increase in sales among shopping centers, although at 6.7%, this is not quite as high as in the first half of 2017. The higher sales are mainly due to the sale of higher-quality organic foods. Goods partly also by price increases. The volume purchased by the full-range stores grew by 3.7% year-on-year, on a smaller scale. However, only fresh product groups and selected processing products are included in this analysis. These are: meat, meat products, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, cheese, bread, bakery products, milk, yoghurt, soy drinks, flour, milk drinks, cottage cheese, butter, cooking oil and others. These products accounted for well over 60% of the market in 2016.

The discounters have also gained significantly. With an increase in volume of 6.1%, revenue increased by 5.7% compared to the same period of the previous year. This is mainly due to the expansion of their organic assortments.

Natural food trade continues to grow, or not?

About the natural food trade are different data. Wholesalers and retailers are again looking forward to growth after 2 years of stagnation. Klaus Braun’s sales barometer, for example, records an increase in sales of 7.5%. And this does not even take into account sales from new businesses, as the like-for-like data only compares the same areas. The BioVista retail panel also reported a 3.9% increase in sales on existing space and 7.9% in new space. WobKom’s trade barometer – published in the BIOwelt – sees growth of 4% in the first half of the year, with the second quarter stagnating. The BNN sales barometer, which measures organic wholesale sales, also recorded growth of 6.1% in the first half of the year. In addition to sales in the organic food trade, this item also includes sales to out-of-home caterers and individual LEH branches. With growth of between 4 and just under 8%, these panels once again show significant growth for the organic food trade after periods of stagnation, which also coincides with industry statements. As a result, more customers are returning to the stores (back). The stores are watching more purchases, while the receipt size remains unchanged.

According to the GfK household panel, sales of all organic food and beverages are slightly down. The organic supermarkets even show significant growth, while the decline in sales comes mainly from the smaller organic stores. According to GfK, the decline relates in particular to fresh produce, while dry products are more likely to generate growth. Here, freshness should be a figurehead of the health food trade and in many cases it is. In part, however, the health food stores feel the competition of the full-range providers, which are in some cases far ahead of the organic food stores, especially in fresh food logistics. The natural food trade in the dry assortment can score points here, because here it is a full-range supplier and specialist, while in the food retail sector a mixed assortment of private labels and in-products can often be found.

Despite slightly higher prices, sales of organic products are also falling in other shops. These include farm shops, weekly markets, but also bakers, butchers and mail order. These stores should benefit from the ongoing trend to buy as regionally as possible and to know where the food comes from. According to the GfK analysis of the GfK household panel, this was not the case in the first half of 2018. If they still had sales growth last year, they will lose around 4.5% in the first half of 2018. This may be mainly due to the larger organic range in the supermarkets, consumers like to resort to this in order to save their way into another store or the weekly market.

Organic flour is the most successful product group in the first half of the year

Last year, organic flour was still the bottom of the product groups, only in 2018 have different chaines did broaden their assortment with organic flour. With 18.5% sales growth, it was the most successful of all product groups in the first half of the year. The main reason is the supply and thus the demand for organic flours in the discounters. But more organic flour was also bought in the natural food retailers and other shops. Despite significantly lower sales volumes, butter and butter preparations registered an increase in sales of 15.2% compared to the previous year. As with conventional butter, prices reached a record high at the end of 2017. The high butter prices lasted until the first quarter of 2018. Drinking milk, eggs and sausage or meat products remain constant. Both edible oil and cheese and organic poultry were significantly lower in the first half of 2018 than in the previous year, so despite increased sales volumes there was hardly any growth in sales. In the case of cheese, there are new developments in the price entry segment of various discounters. Listings and bad harvests reduce sales of organic fruit The development of organic fruit and vegetables has not been very positive. Both product groups lost sales due to volume, fruit more clearly than vegetables. In the first half of 2018, kiwifruit (-43%) and lemons (-28%) had the largest share of the decline in organic fruits compared to the previous year. Even apples (- 22%) were purchased much less, which can be explained by the extremely small harvest last year and the resulting very limited supply of local apples. For kiwifruit and lemons, the drop is due to delistings, above all for Penny and Aldi, but also 16.7% less organic fruit was purchased in the health food trade. Only grapes and strawberries were able to generate positive sales in the first half of the year. In vegetables, the decline was less pronounced, mainly due to declines in lettuce (-28%), asparagus (-18%) and carrots (-11%). The carrot supply from imports was much smaller than planned in May and June. This also includes delistings at Penny involved, but also in organic food and other shops less organic vegetables was in demand than last year. For potatoes, the double-digit decline in sales is unsurprising. Due to extreme wetness at harvest time last year, the qualities were difficult and prices low, but more organic potatoes were in demand than in the same period last year. Consumer prices, like producer prices, were well below the previous season. (Tanja Nusch and Diana Schaack)