Organic food becoming more accessible in France

Organic food products are more widely available and appear to be becoming more cost-effective, a new report has said

Organic food shops are no longer the preserve of affluent Paris suburbs, and are becoming a more accessible and cost-effective option across much of France, a new report has said.

The new study by economics bureau L'Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (Insee), was published on Tuesday October 29.

It found that in its last countrywide count - in 2016 - there were “no fewer than 1,970 local shops” of this kind across the country, of a 57,000 local shops in total.

The report said: “Specialist organic food shops (under brands such as La Vie Claire, Biocoop and Naturalia) are [now] present across the whole of France.”

The highest number of such shops can be found to the south and west of Paris; followed by Brittany, several departments in Occitanie, and in Rhône-Alpes.

The report said: “This partly aligns to areas in which the culture of organic products is most developed.”

 

Organic becoming more cost-effective?

From a consumer standpoint, this growth in popularity of organic shops appears to be prompting larger supermarket brands to offer more organic ranges, making the option more cost-effective.

In 2018, the Agence Bio - which counts all of the organic food brands in the country - said that it had received twice as many notifications of new brands than in 2016.

Examples would include Bio Village at E.Leclerc, Bio at Carrefour, and Bio at Auchan.

A 2017 study by consumer researchers UFC-Que Choisir? found that a standard shopping basket from an organic food shop cost 28% more than the same basket at a normal supermarket, with the exception of loose fruit and vegetables.

This is due to differing business models, with supermarkets “based on high volume and lower sales prices”, compared to that of “less volume but higher prices” at organic shops, Insee said.

But now, more than half of the organic food products sold in France are now bought at a normal supermarket, the Insee report found.

Organic food shops still in urban areas

Location-wise, the study showed that 83% of local organic food shops are still found in central urban areas.

This was in comparison to normal supermarkets, which are more likely to be more spread out (just 71% were located in busy, urban areas), making them more accessible to people living slightly further away from town centres.

The report also said that there are still “regional disparities” between the availability of organic food shops in different areas of the country.

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