You are on page 1of 24

India's booming organic food bazaar

October 17, 2005 07:21 IST



Write a

It takes 20 minutes of hunting and asking around to get to the two shelves at Food Bazaar assigned
to organic foods. The section is unidentified and the selection little more than cereals and pulses.
There are only two brands on offer, both uncertified.

Customers walk past, seemingly unaware of the "green" offerings. Nina Goyal is one of the few who
stops at the section. "I come here for a few specific items," she says, "if I were to change my entire
monthly supplies to organic, the expenditure would be unjustifiable."

This one instance is as representative of the domestic market for organic produce as it gets --
inadequate retail presence, little to no certified branded produce, an incomplete range, uncompetitive
price points, and government policies that are skewed towards exports.

Central strategy on organic foods has always slanted toward the global market, leaving the critical
mass of domestic consumers out in the cold. Currently, about 70 per cent of organic agriculture items
produced in India [ Images ] are being exported. Why, you ask? Big bucks, clearly. Organic products
fetch a 20-30 per cent higher price than inorganic products in the world market.

According to the Indian Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, the global market for organically
produced foods is $26 billion and is estimated to increase to $102 billion by 2020.

As part of 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07), the government earmarked Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) for
the promotion of sustainable agriculture in the country, but the main components of this initiative have
benefited exports, from the establishing of national organic standards under NPOP (National
Programme for Organic Production), putting in place a system of certification for products, and
establishing APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority) as the nodal
agency to promote exports opportunities.

Domestic retail avenues for organic produce have traditionally been the odd cottage emporium, fruit
mart, bakery andkirana store along with an upmarket provision store here and a delicatessen there.

Today, however, marginal growth is slowly becoming evident in the increase in organised producers,
retailers and product offerings in the market, where before the movement had been driven entirely by
the spirit of individual initiatives of the farmers, the odd entrepreneur and non-governmental

Dr Vandana Shiva, physicist and economist, spearheaded the cause of sustainable farming by
establishing Navdanya two decades ago, a movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers'
rights. One of its seminal contributions to fair trade practices has been the marketing of organic
agricultural produce directly from farmers to consumers.

Mayaji, director, Navdanya, claims the sector has sustained itself through the marginal farmer. "They
would tell us 'We are being compelled to adopt chemical-based farming because of government
policies, but we will always keep a portion of the land organic for self-consumption' -- that is the kind
of farmer we exist for," she says.

Besides marketing produce through their two outlets in New Delhi [ Images ] and one in Dehra Dun,
Navdanya has just initiated an organic food awareness campaign among schoolchildren in Delhi,
inviting them to learn to cook organically at its Slow Food café in Hauz Khas. "We teach them to make
organic burgers with nine grain and whole wheat buns," laughs Mayaji.

Sustainability for one-off shops has always been an issue. Nikhil and Jigna Shah started Greenway in
1997 when there were no others retailing organic produce in Mumbai [ Images ]. They source directly
from 20 marginal farmers, and processing is done in small quantities at home.

"Our lateral growth has been great in terms of more products and greater awareness, but vertical
growth is stubborn and we've had to persevere to stay afloat." Nikhil is passionate about their work
and claims that their customers are just as enthused; they rarely ask for certification evidence or
question sources.

"There is no certification for inorganic products so why should there be for organic products? If you
buy wheat from a store, you buy on the basis of the sheer fact that it is branded, you don't ask
whether it has been blended with chemicals and in what quantities."

When organic farmers and traders are operating in an anonymous market, certification is developed
to show and guarantee to consumers that a product has been produced in consistency with organic

While certification has provided Indian-produced organic products with inroads into foreign markets,
domestic bound produce is largely uncertified, owing to the fact that most producers are either small
or marginal farmers, small cooperatives or fair trade companies.

Under current government policy, it takes approximately three years for a farm in conversion to be
certified as organic, and costs are hefty for the small farmer.

While internationally, our exports cannot hold ground without certification, uncertified brands in India
have had some success. Conscious Foods was born in 1999 from Kavita Mukhi's desire to feed her
family with safe, pure food.
"The farmers I sourced from were all small farmers, there was no talk of certification in those days,
and we just bought from whoever we believed to be true. I bought for self-consumption and tried to
sell the excess. We still don't certify our products because our mission has been to support the small
and marginal farmers."

There seem to be other attributes that inspire confidence among her buyers, such as the brightly
colour-coded labeling -- green for spice, mustard for cereals and pulses, red for snacks -- the
interesting play with bottle shapes and sizes, and stories about indigenous producers printed on the

"We never compromise on quality, we have a centralised sorting, cleaning and packing workshop,
and the 10 women we employ wear masks, gloves and hair nets." Conscious Foods grows for the
domestic market. Mukhi clarifies, "Why should the best produce be exported while we eat unhealthy
pesticide laced food?" She continues, "We would love to start a stand-alone store but currently our
volumes are not substantial enough."

These sketchy patterns of retail are metamorphosing into more organised retail, albeit slowly. With an
estimated 2-3 million potential consumers of organic agricultural products in India, the problem has
always been the absence of organised marketing and retailing.

In developed countries, especially in Europe and the US, every supermarket has a green line where a
complete range of certified organic products is available. India is just beginning to manage a toehold
in some supermarkets.

Food Bazaar, the foods division of Pantaloon [ Get Quote ] Retail, is based on a comprehensive food
and grocery store format and has 32 outlets and 200,000 sq ft of retail space across India. The
organic range stocked is inadequate but Damodar Mall, head of the food division, says, "It's a
beginning. The customer is moving in small steps and formats like ours will have to take the lead."

Mall claims the organic range is not complete because they are dependent on local, small brand
initiatives; there just aren't enough big certified brands.

Fabindia is hoping to change that. The Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) apparel and home furnishings
retailer ventured into organic foods earlier this year when it test-marketed its organic range in New

According to Jashwat Purohit, head of Fabindia's organic foods business, the organics segment will
grow from 1 per cent of its annual turnover in the first year to 5 per cent in the third year.

"Our goal is to be able to offer customers a complete organic lifestyle. It doesn't seem enough for us
to offer only select items; we are constantly adding to our range. We started with 75 products but now
have around 200 certified products," he states.

However, the supply chain is still testy. Says Purohit, "This is a huge challenge; organic projects are
scattered across the country and we are faced with many challenges -- quality, consistency, transport,
storage, shelf life -- and so have had to partner with only very reliable suppliers who can consistently
deliver the quality we want."

Fabindia's short-terms plans are to offer fresh fruit and vegetables, and long-term plans include
bakery and dairy products. "We hope to be in all our stores by the end of this year, which are in every
major city across the country," Purohit says.

Even large exporters are now looking homeward to fill the gaps. As export markets get saturated and
oversupplied, especially in markets like tea, and premiums get squeezed, domestic markets are
bound to be targeted.

Says R B Singh, chief executive officer, IITC Organic, a Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) Lucknow-based
producer and exporter of organic products, "In a year or two, we intend to be the leading domestic
organic brand. We predict that five years down the line, India will be both a major organic foods
producer as well as consumer. It is awareness and education in the Western countries that has
brought about an unprecedented demand for organic foods. India will follow suit as public information
and education grows."

Increased public health consciousness and increased visibility will help, but there has to also be a
shift in mindset. Says Rehan Padamsee, a loyal customer of Conscious Foods, "Consumers have to
understand that consistency, standardisation and all-year availability cannot be stringently observed
with organic food. I learned from the Slow Food Movement (an international food movement that
came into being in Paris in 1989 that preserves agricultural biodiversity, traditional foods and
promotes seasonal consumption) to try and eat traditionally and seasonally."

Nikhil Shah agrees, "Customers need to undergo a paradigm shift; they cannot expect every tomato
to look alike without chemical intervention. When I take rice from a farmer and see insects in it, I don't
reject it, I just make sure I dry it in the sun and package it again."

It's not just consumer sensitivity that will affect the upshot; price parity is a big deterrent for potential
consumers. Says Padamsee, "I believe that it is my right to eat healthy food and I shouldn't have to
pay a premium for it. I think more people would convert if there was a better price parity."

Godrej [ Get Quote ] AgroVet's retail product, Nature's Basket, is also looking into the possibility of test
marketing certified organic produce through its outlets, but according to R S Vijan, executive vice
president, when they test-marketed organic chikoos and coconuts, the sales response was slow as
customers were not ready to pay the price differential of 15-20 per cent between organic and non-
organic fruits.

Arguably, once a farmer converts from chemical-based farming to organic farming, costs should come
down. Mayaji responds, "Organic products are more expensive now because farmers are still in the
conversion period when yields are low, even though inputs are cheaper. Because inorganic farming is
so heavily subsidised, when we started buying from farmers, we needed to ensure that the farmer
didn't suffer, so we paid a premium and continue to do so."
Also, currently, the market is in its infancy and as such does not benefit from economies of scale. Mall
agrees, "We believe the premium will come down as sales go up. Growers will improve their yields
over time, and consumers' demand will grow. With critical demand, mass prices will drop. But as a
retailer, we can only participate in the trend, not force it."

In all this however, small farmers still have no significant retail platforms unless picked up by
cooperatives or NGOs. Attempts at marketing organically grown produce are still mostly by word of
mouth, filling individual orders that were phoned in and home-delivered like the Alibag organic
farmers' cooperative who use the home-delivery basket scheme -- but these are difficult, expensive
and eventually quite ineffective methods of selling.

Trade fairs and fair price markets are few and far between, and usually too localised to have a large
impact. For the first time, ICCOA, with the government of Karnataka [ Images ] and APEDA, is
organising a pan-Indian trade fair in Bangalore this November.

India Organic 2005 promises to be visited by large buyers; what is noteworthy is a section reserved
for uncertified farmers.

Nikhil Shah is optimistic: "The farmers are waiting excitedly; they're ready for the boom." Edward
Bastin, advisor to Fabindia's pilot project, Organic Fresh Direct, adds, "We promote factors that have
fuelled demand in more mature markets -- public health consciousness, increased exposure to
organic food, a reduction in the price premium and active marketing.

Although any one of these factors is likely to stimulate interest, it is the simultaneous occurrence of all
of them that will really work." Until then, all the excitement will amount to a little more than a whisper.

Organically speaking...

Customers need to undergo a para-digm shift; they cannot expect every tomato to look alike without
chemical intervention. When I take rice from a farmer and see insects in it, I don't reject reject it, I just
make sure I dry it in the sun and package it again.
Nikhil Shah, founder, Greenway

We exist for the marginal farmers who would keep a portion of the land organic for self-consumption,
despite being compelled to adopt chemical-based farming because of government policies.
Mayaji, director, Navdanya

It is awareness and education in Western countries that has brought about an unprecedented
demand for organic foods. India will follow suit as public information and education grows.
R B Singh, CEO, IITC Organic

Consumers have to understand that consistency, standardisation and all-year availability cannot be
stringently observed with organic food. Also, it's my right to eat healthy food and I shouldn't have to
pay a premium for it. I think more people would convert if there was a better price parity.
Rehan Padamsee, Consumer
ORGANIC farming can be called as Eco Farming as it is a way of agriculture that preserves
the ecosystem. It echews the use of harmful chemicals & fertilizers. Cultured are the
Symbiotic life forms & weed & pest control ensured by this method & optimal soil
biological activity maintains fertility.

Agriculture in Kerala is caught in between the devil and the deep blue sea. Kerala is going
back to her traditional Organic Farming after her hundreds of farmers had learnt the bitter
lessons of " Chemical Farming " and mono cropping hitherto practised as " Scientific
Agriculture ". The Dept of Agriculture is now promoting the production of Organic Food by
launching " Jaiva Kerala " ( The Organic Sustainability of Kerala ). The Confederation of
Indian Industry & a few Tourism Groups are branding " Gods's Own Country", as the Tourism
Industry calls Kerala, a " Safe Food Destination".

It is paradoxical that the United States , a world leader in transgenic technology, is the
largest importer of organic foods, followed by the European Union. The " Organic Craze " is
spreading worldwide. The global market for organic herbal plants ( $14 b ) is growing at
20% and will be a $ 5 trillion by 2050 according to the World Health Organisation
( ). The global trade in food supplements and processed herbal
medicines is $ 60 billion. Despite her immense potential, India has not benefited much
from the export of herbal medicines or organic food. A meagre Rs 90 crores is India's
export of organic food while her export of herbal medicine fetches Rs 2300 crores.

Use of bio-fertilisers instead of chemicals is the way of Organic Farming. In

Marappanmoola village in Pulpally panchayat of Wayanad district , 454 small and medium
farmers in the village owning on an average less than 2 hectares of land have organized
themselves & they now cultivate a mixed variety of crops including pepper, coffee,
cardamom, coconut, areacanut, tubers, vegetables, cashew nut, nutmeg, rice etc. From
the poultry & piggery units, they now collect the wastes and turn them into Biogas for the
kitchen and manure for the field. Use the sap of chrysanthemum and marigold for
chemical insecticides have become the order of the day.

A Cooperative Society, Highland Farmers' Cooperative Society, has been formed ( Hicos )
to take on the challenges of conversion from chemical to organic farming by the farmers
of Marappanmoola. 500 hectares have been declard to be ‘Organic Farming Zone'. Even
now the produce is sold at a hefty 25% premium prices in the domestic market through
weekly markets and export enquriries are on the rise. This organic Farm Movement is
market driven and the premium price obtainable in the external markets in the future is a
major source of inspiration. A 50 grams pack of organic white pepper fetches $ 4 in the U
S Market as against $ 1.5 in the domestic market.

Success in Marappanmoola

One of the pioneers of the Organic Farm Movement, Jose K, says that people derisively
laughed at the Movement initially. The Movement is now spreading in Wayanad, the home
of the famous Kerala spices, especially ginger and black pepper. The other major crops of
the District are Tea & Coffee and over 80% of agriculture is dependent on the foreign

Networking is the key to Success of the Movement, as 74% of the cultivated land in Kerala
is owned by small farmers. The Self Help Groups now use vermicompost, organic manure
and pest control solutions which are made by them. Earlier a shortage of these organic
substitutes made them heavily dependent on chemical farming. Even the women engaged
in the production and marketing of vegetables keep up the morale and insist on Safe Food
in the kitchen.

Another drawback with Chemical Farming was that the soil was destroyed by heavy
chemical inputs, when the prices of pepper perked up ( It had gone upto 260 per kilo ).
Excessive application of chemicals during that boom reduced soil fertility and wiped out
the insects beneficial from the farms so that the average yield of pepper nosedived to 80
kgs per hectare from 500 kg per hectare. Many a farmer committed suicide as a result.
Dangerous indeed, in the long run, is chemical farming !

Jaivakeralam - The Organic Sustainability of Kerala

The State Agriculture Department has now conducted 300 training programms to setup
Collection Centers for Organic Produce. Not only the farmers and consumers have to be
educated but also the scientific "elite", the bureaucrats and the technologists, as " the
indifferent attitude of the Scientific Community " has been recognised as a major
impediment in the State Policy Document.

A Research Station at Aralam in Cannanore, 3 zonal sub-centers and regional labs with
facilities for soil and produce residue analysis has been planned by the Government under
the Jaivakerlam Programme. Development of the domestic market for Organic Foods
through a chain of supermarkets and a gradual withdrawing of State support on chemical
inputs etc has been planned. The Government's role is that of the faciliator, forming
farmers' producing companies to manage the affairs by themselves. Three Districts,
Wynad, Idukki and Palghat will be declared as Organic Farming Zones. Crops which will be
highlighted will be the scented rice varieties of Wynad, Malabar spicesand several types of
tubers. More information can be gathered at Kerala Govt's official site

There are doubting Thomases who argue against the whole Movement. S Usha of Thana, a
green ( environment group who had been in the forefront of combating against aerial
spraying of Endosulphan in the cashew plantations of Kerala, doubt whether the thrust on
export & international certification will reduce the whole exercise to contract farming for
global agri businesses.

If the sale of chemical inputs through measures such as a prescription system is restricted
legally, it will do a world of good for Organic Farming. Plants should be treated as human

Organic versus Transgenic

It is Organic Farming vs Transgenic Technology which is the crucial issue in Kerala

Agriculture. The Task Force on Application of Biotechnology has suggested conserving "
Organic Farming Zones " and at the same time promotes Transgenic Tech ! This has
attracted criticism from experts who argue that the two forms of Agriculture cannot
coexist together.

Even though organic agriculture accounts for a negligible portion of the country's total
farm produce, India's organic farm produce has already found markets abroad. The Indian
Govt has declared only 5347 farms covering 37050 hectares as Organic, despite much of
the country practising the traditional system of Organic Farming.
Research shows the Organic Farming ensures better yield and fetches more income. A
paper by David Tilman in Nature 396 showed that not only were the yields of organic
maize as high as those of maize grown with fertilizers & pesticides, but the soil quality in
the organic fields improved dramatically. Field trials in Hertfordshire reported consistently
higher yeilds of wheat with bio manure. Farmers in India, Kenya, Brazil & Gautemala have
tripled yields by switing to Organic Farming, according to Prof Jules Pretty of Essex

Kochi: Out to turn Kerala “organically” green in the next five years, the state
government is all set to launch its scheme for organic farming, which entails keeping out
chemical fertilizers and pesticides from its farmlands, on 1 November, Kerala’s formation

V.S. Vijayan, chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, says the draft of the
organic farming policy has been readied and the first round of
Helping hand: Conversion to organic
farming will lead to an initial drop in
production, so the Organic Agriculture
Authority will get funds from both the Union
and state governments to support the

discussions has been held with farmers and

agriculture experts, including scientists, and
their feedback will be considered before the
policy is finalized. A few more rounds of
deliberations will be held across the state in
the next few weeks, he adds. The main issues that cropped up were financial support for
conversion to organic farming and marketing strategies for the produce.

“The policy will be ambitiously aimed at freeing Kerala of all chemical fertilizers and
pesticides in five years. This is with a long-term vision of ensuring that future
generations here do not consume food contaminated by toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
The strategy is clear: Convert 20% of the cultivable land to organic farming using
biofertilizers and biopesticides every year so that total conversion can be achieved in five
years,” adds Vijayan. Currently, there are around 7,000 certified organic farmers
covering a minuscule area of 5,750ha, when the net sown area in the state is 2.13
million hectares.

To begin with, 100 villages across the state will soon be organized as organic farm
villages. Mullakkara Ratnakaran, state agriculture minister, says the government will set
up an Organic Agriculture Authority of Kerala, which will be the nodal agency to interact
with grass roots level groups, and also national and international agencies.

The authority will have a governing council headed by a chairman, to be elected from
representatives at the panchayat and village levels, where organic farmer interest
groups will be formed. The council will also have officials, scientists, farmers’
representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promoting organic farming,
he adds.

Vijayan admits that a major stumbling block will be funds and the lack of a market for
this produce.

For the first three years, conversion to organic farming means a drop in yields, putting
farmers to hardship. It is for this that the authority will have funds both from the Union
and state governments to support the farmers. Financial support from international
agencies can also be looked at, Vijayan says. As part of the marketing thrust, the
authority will look at independent retail outlets and also tie up with others to market
these products, which will include rice, vegetables and fruits.

Already, some local agencies have set up retail outlets. For instance, the Ernakulam
District Co-operative Bank has its own Mitra Marts across the district. The village-level
groups will be the seed banks. Also, 20 unemployed youth, of which 10 will be women,
in each village will be trained in organic farming and farm management, and they in turn
will train the farmers in the village. Indigenous farming practices prevalent in certain
areas, which are seen as among the best practices in organic farming, will be promoted.

The authority, when formed, will also look at developing an Organic Kerala Certificate
and a logo for the brand, Jaiva Keralam.

But going organic is not a new thing. One of the earliest initiatives in this field was in
2002 at the Poabs Organic Estates, which was certified organic by Skal International of
the Netherlands and Naturland of Germany. The estate, in the Nelliyampathy hills in
Palakkad district, was taken over by the Kerala forest department after the 99-year
lease ran out.

However, Thomas Jacob, chief executive officer of Poabs Organic Estates, says that even
as the government claims to promote organic farming, what was done to his estate was
contrary to the policy.
The government on its part said that the takeover, without prior notice, was under the
Central Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and the proposal was to hand over the estate to
the Plantation Corp. of Kerala.

“The efforts made by us to enter organic farming and also enter the global market will
now come to naught,” argues Jacob.

“We have made umpteen requests to the state authorities to allow us to run the estate
for a fee. We have also made it clear that we do not want any proprietorial rights on the
estate. But we regret to say that we are one of the unfortunate investors who have
created a model organic plantation,” he adds.
J U N E 1 5 T H , 2 0 0 9

Demand for Organic Food Continues to Outgrow Supply

Now is the time to grow organic. According to a new report released by the USDA, the demand for organically
produced food continues to outpace supply. Organic food sales have increased more than five-fold since the late
1990s, while organic production has slightly more than doubled in that time.

Organic food accounted for three percent of total U.S. food sales in 2008. Organic produce and dairy products
were popular items, accounting for over half of total organic sales. Organic grain also remains in particularly high
demand, representing a major bottleneck for use as feed in the organic livestock sector.

The clientele fueling this demand is far more diverse - and at times surprising - than any pigeonholed
assumptions about the typical organic consumer. According to recent surveys, African Americans spent the most
on organic produce in 2004. The same year, lowest household income (less than $25,000 per year) was
correlated with the highest per capita spending on organic produce. In general, there is little or no substantial
differentiation across race, age, education, geography or income among the growing population of Americans who
purchase organic products.
To meet the demand of the expanding consumer base, U.S. organic acreage has doubled between 1997 and 2005.
Still, only 0.5 percent of U.S. pastureland and 0.5 percent of U.S. cropland are certified organic. The slow rate of
organic adoption has been credited to multiple factors, including increased operating costs, the need for skilled
labor, the mandatory three year “transition period” before certification, criticism from neighbors and a lack of
government infrastructure support. While provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill (recommended reading: Foodfight:
A Citizen’s Guide to the Farm Bill) are hoped to spur domestic production via financial incentives and technical
assistance for conservation practices, many suppliers have turned to imports - in 2007, USDA organic
certification covered producers and handlers in over 100 countries.
The effects of the growing demand for ‘locally produced’ food on the organic market remain uncertain, though
recent surveys suggests consumers, given the choice, would prefer to buy local over organic. Ideally, the
expansion of local and organic foods available through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and
farmers’ markets will create a market synergy wherein both local distribution and organic production can help the
other to succeed.
The market continues to shine brightly on the economic prospects of organic production, even despite the recent
economic slowdown. Although USDA organic certification might benefit from tighter requirements for
conservation practices and ethical animal stewardship, since its introduction in 2002 organic certification has
proven to be a market success. Given the potential public health and environmental benefits of sound organic
practices, this is good news for organic producers and global health alike.

By Bkim.Filed under: Agriculture, Food Production, Food and Farm Policy.

Permalink | ShareThis
« ‘Operational Sustainability’: EPA Official on How to Get There

Meeting local needs in a movement for global change »

2 Responses to Demand for Organic Food Continues to Outgrow Supply

1. You want demand? We got demand! :: The Ethicurean: Chew the right thing.
June 16th, 2009 at 10:00 am

[...] geography or income among the growing population of Americans who purchase organic
products. (Center for a Livable Future) Home / Digest, Markets, Organic vs. industrial / You want
demand? We got [...]
2. Taste T.O. - Food & Drink In Toronto » Food For Thought - Wednesday, June 17th
June 17th, 2009 at 5:40 pm

[...] People may be cutting back on organic food because of the recession, but demand still outpaces
supply. [...]

WASHINGTON — No almonds. Big problem.

The makers of the high-energy, eat-and-run Clif Bar needed 85,000 pounds of
almonds, and they had to be organic. But the nation’s organic almond crop was
spoken for.
Eventually, Clif Bar found the almonds — in Spain. But more shortages have
popped up: apricots and blueberries, cashews and hazelnuts, brown rice syrup
and oats.
America’s appetite for organic food is so strong that supply just can’t keep up with
demand. Organic means food is grown without bug killer, fertilizer, hormones,
antibiotics or biotechnology.
“We’re doing a lot of scrambling,” said Sheryl O’Loughlin, CEO of Clif Bar Inc.
“We have gotten to the point now where we know we can get a call for any
Organic products still have only a tiny slice, about 2.5 percent, of the nation’s
food market. But the slice is expanding at a feverish pace. Growth in sales of
organic food has been 15 percent to 21 percent each year, compared with 2
percent to 4 percent for total food sales.
Mainstream supermarkets, eyeing the success of organic retailers such as Whole
Foods, have rushed to meet demand. The Kroger Co., Safeway Inc. and SuperValu
Inc., which owns Albertson’s LLC, are among those selling their own organic
brands. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said earlier this year it would double its organic
The number of organic farms — an estimated 10,000 — is also increasing, but not
fast enough. As a result, organic manufacturers are looking for ingredients
outside the United States in places like Europe, Bolivia, Venezuela and South
That is no surprise, said Barbara Robinson, head of the Agriculture Department’s
National Organic Program. The program provides the round, green “USDA
Organic” seal for certified products.
Her agency is just now starting to track organic data, but Robinson believes the
United States is importing far more organic food than it exports. That’s true of
conventional food, too.
advertisement | ad info

“That is how you stimulate growth, is imports generally,” she said. “Your own
industry says we’re tired of importing this; why should I pay for imports when I
could start producing myself?”
Even Stonyfield Farm, an organic pioneer in the United States, is pursuing a
foreign supplier; Stonyfield is working on a deal to import milk powder from New
“I’m not suggesting we would be importing from all these places,” said Gary
Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm Inc. “But for transition
purposes, to help organic supply to keep up with the nation’s growing hunger,
these countries have to be considered.”
A long-running debate
The dilemma of how to fill the gap between organic supply and demand is part of
a long-running debate within America’s booming organic industry. For many
enthusiasts, organic is about more than the food on their plates; it’s a way to
improve the environment where they live and help keep small-scale farmers in
“If organic is something created in the image of sustainable agriculture, we
certainly haven’t accomplished that yet,” said Urvashi Rangan, a scientist for
Consumers Union. “What people do have to understand is if that stuff comes in
from overseas, and it’s got an organic label on it, it had to meet USDA standards
in order to get here.”
The issue causes mixed feelings for Travis Forgues, an organic dairy farmer in
“I don’t like the idea of it coming in from out of this country, but I don’t want
them to stop growing organic because of that,” Forgues said. “I want people to
say, ‘Let’s do that here, give a farmer another avenue to make a livable wage.”’
A member of the farmer-owned Organic Valley cooperative, Forgues got his dairy
farm certified nearly 10 years ago. Organic Valley supplies milk to Stonyfield.
Switching to organic is a difficult proposition. Vegetable grower Scott Woodard is
learning through trial and error on his Putnam Valley, N.Y., farm. One costly
mistake: Conventional farmers can plant seeds when they want and use pesticides
to kill hungry insect larvae. If Woodard had waited three weeks to plant, the bugs
that ate his seeds would have hatched and left. Organic seeds can be double the
price of conventional.
“There’s not a lot of information out there,” Woodard said. “We try to do the best
we can. Sometimes it’s too late, but then we learn for next time.”
Boosting organic farming
Stonyfield and Organic Valley are working to increase the number of organic
farms, paying farmers to help them switch or boost production. Stonyfield,
together with farmer-owned cooperative Organic Valley, expects to spend around
$2 million on incentives and technical help in 2006, Hirshberg said.
advertisement | ad info

Other companies offer similar help. And the industry’s Organic Trade Association
is trying to become more of a resource for individual farmers.
Caren Wilcox, the group’s executive director, described how an Illinois farmer
showed up in May at an industry show in Chicago.
“He said, ‘I want to get certified. Help me,”’ Wilcox said. “It was a smart thing to
do, but the fact that he had to get into his car and go down to McCormick Center
says something about the availability of information.”
In the meantime, manufacturers like Clif Bar and Stonyfield still prefer to buy
organic ingredients, wherever they come from, instead of conventional crops in
the U.S.
“Anybody who’s helping to take toxins out of the biosphere and use less
poisonous chemicals in agriculture is a hero of mine,” Hirshberg said. “There’s
enormous opportunity here for everybody to win, large and small.”
Organic Food Exports from India
Top of Form

User Rating: / 25


Poor Best

Bottom of Form



Organic food exports from India are increasing with more farmers shifting to organic farming. With
the domestic consumption being low, the prime market for Indian organic food industry lies in the US
and Europe. India has now become a leading supplier of organic herbs, organic spices, organic
basmati rice, etc.
RCNOS recently published a report tilted ‘Food Processing Market in India (2005)’. According to its
research, exports amount to 53% of the organic food produced in India. This is considerably high
when compared to percentage of agricultural products exported. In 2003, only 6-7% of the total
agricultural produce in India was exported.
Exports is driving organic food production in India
The increasing demand for organic food products in the developed countries and the extensive
support by the Indian government coupled with its focus on agri-exports are the drivers for the
Indian organic food industry.
Organic food products in India are priced about 20-30% higher than non-organic food products. This
is a very high premium for most of the Indian population where the per capita income is merely USD
800. Though the salaries inIndia are increasing rapidly, the domestic market is not sufficient to
consume the entire organic food produced in the country. As a result, exports of organic food is the
prime aim of organic farmers as well as the government.
The Indian government is committed towards encouraging organic food production. It allocated Rs.
100 crore or USD 22.2 million during the Tenth Five Year Plan for promoting sustainable agriculture
in India.
APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority) coordinates the export
of organic food (and other food products) in India. The National Programme for Organic Production
in India was initiated by the Ministry of Commerce. The programme provides standard for the
organic food industry in the country. Since these standards have been developed taking into
consideration international organic production standards such as CODEX and IFOAM,
Indian organic food products are being accepted in the US and European markets. APEDA also
provides alist of organic food exporters in India.
Organic food costs in India are expected to decrease driving further exports in future
Organic food production costs are higher in the developed countries as organic farming is labor
intensive and labor is costly in these countries. However, in a country like India, where labor is
abundant and is relatively cheap, organicfarming is seen as a good cost effective solution to the
increasing costs involved in chemical farming. Currently most of the organic farmers in India are still
in the transition phase and hence their costs are still high. As these farmers continue with organic
farming, the production costs are expected to reduce, making India as one of the most important
producers of organic food.
Organic food products exported from India include the following:
• Organic Cereals: Wheat, rice, maize or corn
• Organic Pulses: Red gram, black gram
• Organic Fruits: Banana, mango, orange, pineapple, passion fruit, cashew nut, walnut
• Organic Oil Seeds and Oils: Soybean, sunflower, mustard, cotton seed, groundnut, castor
• Organic Vegetables: Brijal, garlic, potato, tomato, onion
• Organic Herbs and Spices: Chili, peppermint, cardamom, turmeric, black pepper, white
pepper, amla, tamarind, ginger, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace,
• Others: Jaggery, sugar, tea, coffee, cotton, textiles
Given below are the sales of various organic food products that were exported from India in 2002.
Organic Food Item Sales (tons)
Tea 3000
Coffee 550
Spices 700
Rice 2500
Wheat 1150
Pulses 300
Oil Seeds 100
Fruits and Vegetables 1800
Cashew Nut 375
Cotton 1200
Herbal Products 250
Total 11,925
Source: FAO Organic Source: Org-Marg

Further Reading:

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Discussion Board Add New RSS

Ask a question or share your views

<< Start < Prev 1 2 Next > End >>

mahesh - Organic Farming Statistics 2010-11-01 12:26:26

Where is reliable data for Organic Products available and who are the key
manufacturer's from India.


chirag jasani - EXPORTING 2010-09-26 08:24:10

Which organic food is more exporting from india to South Africa & UK


Shinosh - Export 2010-09-06 07:38:36

Dear Sir,
We are a Homemade Manufacturers of more than 20 types of herbal
drink.Now two companies who have tasted our product, have given orders to
export.WE would like to know what are the Govt Rules and regulation to
market our product in India as well as in Europe.
We shall be really glad if you can help us with exact details.
We are from Kerala.
Thank you.


agri business company - Possibility of Business 2010-08-27

Joint Venture 18:16:07

Hi Archit

My company is looking at a joint venture for organic farming and related

agribusiness activities.
Shall we explore if there is any scope of collaboration between us?

Please drop a line at my e-mail, and I'll be happy to enter into talks with you.

Best Regds



murugesan - agri export 2010-08-24 06:57:55

sir, i am intrested in organic vegetable export from

india,t.nadu, please give me details and procedure to doing


pritish - organic 2010-08-22 13:07:25

i am doing this organic export business.i am with organic tea.but one thing
first they want samples.then it will be some huge have to satisfy luck


ajay - shrivastava 2010-08-20 07:17:13

Hi Hari,

I am planning to set up a organic farm in Assam. So you can find a use of

mine as a supplier to your food processing unit.

Again can you suggest me on the following:

1) what all vegetables will find market abroad?

2) how vegetables can be processed and caned?
3) what is the way to get food certified as organic.


dr.m.vijay antony - i am trying to produce organic 2010-08-16
fruits and vegetabl 01:15:13

i am trying to produce organic vegetables and fruits in large scale at trichy,

tamilnadu, india,


Ramesh 2010-08-12 15:36:52

sir, i m intersted export the agriculture or foods from india. how can i export
and pls guide me details of transportation cost and expenses details


Joyeb Ali Jaffri - Organic Soybean 2010-08-09 09:57:51

We are certified for Organic Soyabean & Organic Soybean meal by Control
union Certifications in India.We can provide you the same as whole &
processed according to your Product Specification.


shagun tyagi - orgenic food export 2010-08-06 10:56:03




amar yadav - organic food 2010-06-24 20:08:33

I am planning to set up a organic farm in up.

please suggest me on the following:

1) what all vegetables will find market abroad?

2) how vegetables can be processed and caned?
3) what is the way to get food certified as organic.


N Chinnakaruppan - Organic Export 2010-06-12 06:40:13


I want to do Organic vegitables export. can suggest some body how to do

that & we make make a partnership also.


Rohit Khandelwal - Organic Food Export 2010-07-27 10:42:03

Hi N Chinna,

I am also interested to export Organic Foods. I have a knowledge about it.

Where are you based ? Do you have the farms ? Pls. let me know.


robin - working in abroad 2010-08-11 05:53:44



My friend have land in uttranchal state and i want utilized this land for uran
mony if you knolagde contect me imidiat.

its shivas


sagar kalra - farming 2010-06-11 07:16:00

i am sagar kalra lookin forward to start organic farming i hope u will guide
me on this m frm ludhiana do hope u reply soon


Yogesh - Any one there from konkan 2010-05-15 19:35:45

I am from konkan ( Ratnagiri) I m intrested in organic Agri.. can any one
there from konkan to give me some knowalage about it..... can it happen
about organic Agri in konkan region.

surendra dudi - organic food 2010-05-07 06:01:50


We are interested in exporting processed food from India to UK, US. We have
some farms where we produce organic food. We would also like to get in
touch with farmers who produce fruits and others who have knowledge of
processing organic food.

We are also in the process of setting up a plant to process the food and
export it to Western Europe or the Americas.



rajendra - organic farming 2010-05-07 05:07:17


i am in to shade net farming and going to start the organic

send us your details

thank you


Sushmita - Information Required 2010-04-24 09:15:49


I want to start an organic farming venture of fruits and vegetables.

Could anybody please give me insights, challenges and oppurtunities of this


Thanks and Regards,


sachithanandam - ur answer 2010-06-24 19:29:00

in organic fruit cultivation, you may face the weed problems and nutritional
problems in fruit crops.. because the fruit trees requirs more amount of
nutritions during the fruiting time.. so for the nutrition reqirement you can
follow the applications organic manures like compost,FYM,vermicompost,and
panchagavya spraying over the trees,amirtha karaisal and fish liquid and
EM,etc are available.. for controlling of weeds inbetween the trees you can
apply more amount of mulching by using the unwanted leaves and plant
wast materials and green manure crops etc.. for pest control in dises you
should prepare cow urine pest repelents.and also medicinal pest repelent
etc.. for controlling the diseases you should apply trichoderma viride,
Psuedomonas fluorescense.and crud preparation etc..




pradeep - info required 2010-09-03 13:21:16

Hi sushmita,

I am in leeds,even i wanna start exports of cashewnuts and turmeric from

india to uk. so if u have any details pls share it with me and when i get some
details i would like to do the same..i wanna know the
procedure,certification,export details and other

Thanks and Regards



Arun.s - ORGANIC RICE 2010-04-12 01:59:51

ihad organic red rice of 50tonnes.where is the market for my products
please mail me
thank you

Ghanendra K Nath - Organic Vegetables. 2010-04-05 10:43:06

Hi Hari,

I am planning to set up a organic farm in Assam. So you can find a use of

mine as a supplier to your food processing unit.

Again can you suggest me on the following:

1) what all vegetables will find market abroad?

2) how vegetables can be processed and caned?
3) what is the way to get food certified as organic.




ganesh - organic food shop 2010-03-25 03:54:41

hi i want to setup an organic food in chennai.i would like to know the ground
work needed to set up such a shop.


shahbaz - organic basmati 2010-03-22 18:43:52

i am interested in growing organic basmati in 30 acres pl. give some details

regarding its marketing etc.


prakashbabu - i am interested in organic

2010-03-16 17:53:02

we want to put green house what rate could we get if we produce can we export .we want to know the route to export


rahul sarpal - organic rice 2010-02-06 05:54:49

I just want to know from where you want to sell your o. rice


Sangameshwar Ekale - Testing for organic 2010-01-28

products in India 12:06:53

I am representing an organization that specializes in testing organic products

for their GMO,PR,Aflatoxin,Mycotoxin,Heavy elements content. We are
approved by all the Organizations that an exporter is worried about.


Sushmita - Details Required 2010-04-24 08:38:05

Hi ,

I am planning to set up an organic farming unit for fruits and vegetables in

Kolkata, West Bengal.

Can you please provide me the details so that i can contact you ?

Thanks and Regards,



babu lal kalirawana - organic farming consultacy 2010-09-22 12:00:46

hii sushmita
i am babu lal from jaipur . i have the special education in organic agriculture
management , i give you detail about organic agriculture production and its
certification according to organic standard .
Babu lal

With the increasing domestic demand for organic food, a number of organic food stores are
spurring up in the country.

According to the Working Group Organic and Biodynamic Farming, the commonly
produced organic food items inIndia include wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, maize, pigeonpea, chickpea,
greengram, blackgram, chana, groundnut,castor, mustard, sesame, cotton, sugarcane,
jaggery, ginger, turmeric, chillies, cumin, tea, coffee, cardamom,banana, sapota, custard apple,
papaya, tomato, brinjal, cucurbits, cole crops, and leafy vegetables. Click on a state or union territory
below to find the organic food store in that region

Middle East demand for organic products growing

JEDDAH: The potential of the Middle East’s market for organic products is under-explored and the
sector has immense growth opportunities with a predominant youth population in the region taking to
healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyles, said organizers of the eighth edition of the Middle East
Natural and Organic Product Expo 2010 (MENOPE 2010) Tuesday.
The expo will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center Dec. 6-8.
Addressing a press conference, organizers of MENOPE 2010 said the regional organic food market,
currently valued at approximately $300 million a year, was growing at a pace of nearly 20 percent,
mainly driven by the rising affinity of the youth population to embrace healthy and natural lifestyles.
Eng. Nadim Al Fuqaha, managing director, Global Links, organizers of MENOPE 2010, said: “The
organic products market in the region is at the threshold of growth and the current demand and sales
volume reflects the state of European markets between 1985-1990. In comparison to other global
markets, even at low volumes, Middle East is still the fastest growing destination for natural and
organic foods.”
He further said “the Middle East boasts of a highly eco-conscious populace which contributes to the
success of the expo here. The expo still remains as the only one that caters to the natural and organic
products market in the region. We are positive that the success of the previous years will continue to
reflect on the eighth edition of the expo creating a prolific platform for the industry to grow and excel.”
MENOPE 2010 will showcase a variety of products spanning across herbals and spices, food &
beverages, cereal products, supplements, health care products, natural living, natural cosmetics,
healing products, natural remedies, traditional medicines, spas, relaxation facilities, pet products and
Joby Mathew Muricken, project manager of the event, said the appeal of MENOPE as a platform for
global organic product companies is tremendous.
– Saudi Gazette