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Organic produce in France ‘not cheaper’ in supermarkets

A new study has found that buying French-grown organic produce in large supermarkets is not necessarily cheaper than buying from specialist organic shops

Organic fruit and vegetables sold in France are not cheaper in supermarkets compared to buying them in health food shops, a new study has found.

Consumer association CLCV (l'Association nationale de défense des consommateurs et usagers) found that organic fruit and veg is 44% more expensive that their non-organic equivalents, and that buying them in major supermarkets is not significantly cheaper.

While organic produce has increased in popularity in France over recent years (see below), 80% of the public say that cost is the main barrier to their buying organic fruit and veg.

Organic food (bio in French) is produced without insecticides or synthetic herbicides, meaning that the crop yield is lower. This has a knock-on effect on the price of the final product.

The CLCV study found that large and medium-size supermarkets are not more likely to offer organic produce at lower prices, and that on average their organic fruit and veg was just as expensive as that sold in specialist organic shops.

The study also looked at the difference in prices between produce from different countries, and highlighted that organic food does not necessarily also mean “locally-produced” food. For example, just 37% of organic courgettes sold in France come from France; most of the rest are from Spain,

CLCV also found that the origin of produce did not seem to have a major impact on the price, and that French produce is not necessarily the most expensive.

It said: “For example, French courgettes (€4.06/kg) are less expensive than Spanish courgettes (€4.19/kg). Same for Spanish oranges (€3.43/kg) compared to South African oranges (€4.07/kg). With the exception of grapes - French grapes are 40% more expensive than Italian grapes.”

The study looked at prices in 370 places - including hyper and supermarkets and organic specialist shops - across 34 departments. Confinement caused the study to look at fewer price points than intended, so CLCV has warned that there is a margin of error of 10%, but that their results are still statistically significant.


Increased popularity

Despite the cost, people in France appear to be becoming more and more likely to buy organic. Sales of organic products reached €12billion in 2019.

According to the 2019 barometer by organic monitoring organisation Agence Bio, more than 9 in 10 people in France say they have eaten organic food, and almost three quarters eat organic at least once per month.

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