Organic products retail in France - statistics & facts

In 1952, the AFRAN association (Association Française pour la Recherche de l'Alimentation Normale) linked the organic degeneration of the population to the "normal" quality of food, highlighting health risks caused by the current diet. Since then, an increasing number of individuals and associations criticize chemical-based agricultural practices and their harmful consequences on food and health, and more natural alternatives are gaining popularity. Organic food has experienced significant growth in recent years, and in 2019, it represented more than six percent of the French food market, compared to less than two the previous decade.

Specialty retailers in decline?

The term "organic" broadly applies to the production of agricultural products that do not involve the use of modern synthetic inputs such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In France, the organic market is very lucrative. In 2019, retail sales of organic food products reached almost 12 billion euros. Yet, while specialized retailers have seen their sales double in the last ten years, sales of organic food products in supermarkets and hypermarkets have increased almost fourfold over the same period. Since 2015, this channel has experienced an increase in market share of more than ten points, while the share of specialty stores has declined from 36.5 to 28.3 percent.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures it involved benefited organic product retailers, especially convenience stores and Drive services. Compelled to stay at home out of necessity, the French resort to online food shopping through Drive has been massive. Organic product sales value through this channel had indeed increased by 74 percent between the 12th and 13th week of 2020.

Consumption on the rise, but facing serious challenges

This growth, while reflecting a retail channel diversification , highlights the growing interest of consumers in organic products. Since 2006, consumption has more than tripled in Europe, and nearly half of French people ate organic products at least once a week. And, while this growing trend covers a wide variety of products, the most popular category remains fruit and vegetables. The French generally associate organic food with positive effects on health.
However, in 2019, almost one in three people only consumed these products on rare occasions, if at all. One major factor is the price. Since 2010, the cost of a kilogram of organic vegetables has risen by almost 1.40 euros, and in 2020, the price of an organic tomato was twice that of the conventional one. The second most frequently mentioned element is uncertainty about the products' actual organic qualities. Indeed, the diversity of regulations and the variety of labels make consumers doubtful. Most of them consider the level of information concerning these products insufficient, whether in terms of origin, health and environmental impact, control methods or regulations applied.


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