IFOAM Trade Symposium 2007

In-Between Discount and Premium - Friend or Foe?

Bonn, February, 19th 2007Trade in organic products is booming and becoming more mainstream every day. The world’s largest supermarkets and discounters, such as Aldi in Germany, Walmart, Safeway and many others, are launching lines of organic products and dramatically increasing trade in organic products, which poses both challenges and opportunities for the organic sector. In response, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) organized a trade symposium with the title In-Between Discount and Premium - Friend or Foe, inviting key players in the organic sector to discuss the implications of large-scale conventional businesses entering the organic marketplace. The symposium took place on February 14th in Nuremburg, Germany, in connection with BioFach 2007, the world’s largest organic trade fair, of which IFOAM is the patron.

The IFOAM Trade Symposium 2007 consisted of four presentations by key players in the organic sector, and was moderated by Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM President.

Dr. Götz Rehn,? Director of Alnatura - one of Germany’s largest organic retailers and brands - gave a speech titled ‘Organics between triviality and a holistic approach.’ Presenting his personal philosophy and strategy for Alnatura, he expressed that? “The aim of a business is not profit. The aim of a business should be to produce good products that serve mankind and protect the earth. The achievement of profit is the expression and measure of how efficient this is being done.”

Mr. Bruno Fischer, - Director of International Procurement in Europe and South America for The Hain Celestial Group, concluded that “Our core business is nurturing the development of knowledge at all levels with all stakeholders regarding organic agriculture and principles. Our industry is built upon long, sustainable cycles. Be brave enough to go slow enough to allow for that.”? He emphasized that long-term scarcity of organic commodities increases the quality of organic products and further stated that “The term borrowing from future generations is often used, but borrowing is always based on consent between two parties. Taking from another party without consent is robbery.”

Mr. Mathew Miller, Vice President of Marketing/Brand Strategy & Development Consumer Brands for Safeway, Inc, one of the world’s largest supermarket chains with 1800 stores and annual sales reaching 40 billion USD, talked about O-Organics, Safeway’s store brand of organic products that was launched in October 2005 with 150 products across 35 categories, and in that short time has already achieved sales of 155 million USD. He explained Safeway’s vision for the O-Organics brand, which is focused on sourcing, procurement, distribution and merchandising, is to improve organic quality and taste, to provide a greater assortment across its stores at lower retail prices and ultimately availability at all Safeway divisions. They will be launching O-Organics for Baby? and O-Organics for Kids in the near future in an effort to achieve their mission of providing great tasting organic products at affordable prices.

According to Thomas B. Harding, Jr., President of AgriSystems International and former IFOAM President, “Building a sustainable, high quality and ethical organic business is not about the size or scale of the operation. Crucially, it is about creating systems that deliver organic products that hold fast to the Principles of Organic Agriculture and impart holistic values to consumers, irrespective of scale.”

Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM President, summarized the thread of the discussion, noting that “The speakers, all leaders and pioneers in the organic sector, have reminded us that? it is us - nobody else - who are defining how this market will develop, and that we need to bring everyone to the table to make this happen. This is precisely the role of IFOAM – to create a better world by creating a platform that brings people together, including those who are not already part of the system. This symposium also confirms that through ethical trade and education, the organic sector is provoking long-term consumer commitment and sustainable economic success.”

The IFOAM Trade Symposium 2007 brought together 120 participants from 20 countries. The Nuernberg Messe generously donated the use of the venue and technical services.

Information on the Internet
Please visit www.ifoam.org for more information about the IFOAM Trade Symposium 2007, including the full text of speaker presentations.

IFOAM Press Release, Responsible: Angela B. Caudle, Contact: Neil Sorensen

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