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Germany is the country with the longest tradition in organic farming and marketing for health products. The first reform shops (Reformhäuser) opened more than 100 years ago as part of a food reform movement.

About 25-30 years ago the first natural food stores were founded. Mainly carrying organic products, they expressed criticism of industrial society and presented an alternative to conventional grocery trade. Together with growing organic agricultural production they experienced double-figure growth rates. Only many years later (early 1990s) supermarkets entered the field.

Today, Germany is one of the largest organic markets in the world, though currently with lower growth rates than other countries like the United Kingdom. Being one of the largest markets, Germany is also one of the biggest importers of organic products. The recent BSE crisis and other food scares appear to have a positive impact on the organic market because of rising health awareness among consumers.

1. Organic farming in Germany

1.1 Main production regions

Whereas there was a decline in the number of conventional farms, decreasing from 648 803 in 1990 to 429 000 in 1999, or 34 percent, organic agriculture spread very quickly during the last 10 years and reached 12 740 farms by the end of 2000 with 546 023 ha under organic production. The organic share of 3.2 percent of the total agricultural area and 2.9 percent of the total number of farms (2000) is slightly above the western European average.

Approximately 80 percent of all organic farms in Germany are members of one of the nine German organic producer organizations. AGÖL (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ökologischer Landbau) is the umbrella organization of some of the producer organizations. Most of the organic farms are located in the federal states (Länder) of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in southern Germany, a pattern that developed after the Second World War.

After the reunification of Germany in 1990, organic farming also spread quickly in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) where organic farming was previously prohibited. Nevertheless, a very small number of farms had practised organic farming methods and nowadays, farmers convert to organic agriculture there, especially in agricultural regions with poor soils (classified as disadvantaged areas). The designation of large conservation areas with restrictive conditions on agriculture that can be easily fulfilled by organic farmers has lead to further conversion. Now the highest ratio of organic farms is in eastern Germany.

1.2 Main products

As there are no statistical data on the production or consumption of several organic crops, this subject has to be approached through data on land use by organic farms and data on sales of different product groups. The production side does not necessarily reflect the main product groups sold in the market place since many products are imported.

Table 1 presents the cropping pattern of farms in German producers' associations, where orchards and market gardens are included.

Table 1: Cropping pattern on farms of German producers’ associations in 1997/98



Percentage of total organic acreage


354 006

of which:


89 824



14 858


Root crops:

4 371


- Potatoes

- 4,119

Oil Plants

9 115



4 408


- Vegetables for processing

- 504

- Carrots

- 666

- Cabbage

- 186

- Onions

- 206

- Red beets

- 381


2 710


- Fruit for processing

- 460

- Pome fruit

- 393

- Small fruit

- 127

Medicinal herbs, herbs



1 578

Permanent grassland

155 705


Special crops

9 055


Source: ZMP, 1999 (

The most important organic crops in Germany (based on hectares planted) are cereals, followed by legumes and oil plants. Unfortunately, no data are available on value, as yields and values of the different crops can be very distinct from their relative land surface. For example, vegetables and, especially, fruit can have a very high value but their share of agricultural land surface is very small.

From ZMP figures (Zentrale Markt- und Preisberichtstelle für Erzeugnisse der Land-, Forst- und Ernährungswirtschaft GmbH), it appears that out of the total of 354 006 ha in German associations, 4 408 ha were under organic vegetable production and 2 710 ha under organic fruit production, which corresponds to approximately only 2 percent of the total surface under organic farming. This compares to a share of 18 percent for organic fruits and vegetable in total organic food sales.

There were 1 385 organic fruit orchards and around 650 organic market gardens in Germany at the end of 1999 out of a total of 11 748 farms which were included in a survey on land use and cropping patterns. However, not only organic market gardens are producing vegetables. Most of the organic farms produce some basic vegetables like potatoes, onions and carrots, because crop rotation schemes on organic farms include more crops than on conventional farms.

From Table 1 it can be deduced that potatoes, carrots, beet roots and cabbage are important vegetables in German organic production and consumption, although the number of hectares might not correspond relatively with the yield or value. The most important organic fruit crop in Germany is apples, produced and sold from September through April.

There are no data available on total sales or the growth rate of production of the different crops.

1.3 Government policy and support systems for organic farming

Due to the federal structure of Germany (16 Bundesländer) there are many different approaches to supporting organic farming. In every Land (Federal State), a different range of programmes is offered to help organic farmers, and the requirements for participation in equivalent programmes may differ. The support given to organic farming covers production, certification and marketing.

From 1989, organic farmers in Germany received support under the EC programme for more extensive agriculture when converting to organic agriculture. From 1994 farmers could receive support under Council Regulation (EC) No. 2078/92, concerning agricultural production methods compatible with requirements for the protection of the environment and the maintenance of the countryside. Not only converting farms, but also existing organic farms could participate in this programme.

The annual subsidies for arable farming and grassland were about DM 245 (€125) per hectare (DM196, or €100, for existing farms) and DM1 176 (€600) for permanent crops (DM980, or €500) for existing farms). The different Länder could diverge from these sums to a certain extent.

Since the year 2000, support has been granted under the Rural Development Regulation of Agenda 2000 (Council Regulation [(EC)] No. 1257/1999). Besides direct support to farmers, marketing initiatives are also supported. Subsidies are granted for producer-based marketing organizations, for processing and for development of marketing concepts (i.e. regional marketing initiatives). With the current BSE crisis, new initiatives in favour of organic farming may be introduced, as public awareness has been raised. The new Minister of Agriculture and Consumers' Protection has recently set a goal of 20 percent for the organic share of agriculture to be reached within the next 10 years.

1.4 Production constraints

Until recently, the organic market was a niche market. Only in the last few years have big supermarket chains entered the field. In the past, this market was not sufficiently attractive for producers in general to consider conversion to organic farming on a large scale. Besides, organic farming requires a certain conviction, while many conventional farmers are convinced that their farming techniques are not harmful to the environment and that they follow good agricultural practices.

The costs of conversion to organic farming, including a heavier workload, are not fully covered by the subsidies to farmers. Especially intensive conventional farms with higher costs of conversion were often not attracted by the programmes. Also, a certain consciousness or spirit goes along with organic farming, and people have to be committed and enthusiastic.

On the other hand, intensive agriculture is being criticized, especially intensive animal production. Because of these changes, organic farming will most probably experience an upswing.

1.5 Destination of production

Very few raw materials and fresh organic products are exported. Only nine percent of the domestic production of wine is exported, six percent of the cereals and three percent of the fruit production. This means that nearly the entire domestic organic production is consumed in Germany. However, exports of processed and packaged organic food products (e.g. important organic brands, like Rapunzel) are considerable.

2. The German market for organic fruit and vegetables

According to Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren, the most important product groups sold in specialized natural food shops in 1999 in terms of value were fruit and vegetables with an 18 percent share of total organic sales. These are followed by milk and milk products (16 percent) and bread and bakery products (12 percent). Another 49 percent of sales are divided among products like tea, coffee, sweets, oils, fats, honey, spreads, pasta, dried fruits, nuts etc. The share of meat and sausages amounted only to 4 percent in 1999. These figures are expected to at least double in 2001 due to the BSE crisis, provided supply is available.

2.1 Sales of organic fruit and vegetables

Due to the absence of reliable statistical data, it is very difficult to make exact statements on sales. One study conducted by Michelsen, Hamm, Wynen and Roth (1999) states that the market share of organic vegetable sales was 2.6 percent (by value) of the total fruits and vegetable market in 1999. There was a growth rate of approximately 15 percent per year between 1993 and 1997 for organic vegetable sales in Germany. The annual growth rate for organic fruit sales between 1993 and 1997 was 8 percent, while the market share (value) amounted to 2 percent in 1999.

If we consider that natural food store sales of fruits and vegetables were 18 percent of their total organic sales, the total value of their organic fruits and vegetable sales amounted to DM250 million in 1999. Assuming that these stores have a market share of 35 percent of total organic sales, total sales of organic fruit and vegetables could be extrapolated to about DM700 million in 1999. In the year 2000, it was estimated that there was a total turnover of organic products of DM4.5 billion, which implies a share of fruit and vegetables sales of around DM800 million.

Exact data on sales per product and their growth rates are not available. By means of interviews with some market players it was attempted to draw an approximate picture of the situation but not all market partners were willing to give data. In particular, the large supermarket chains are extremely secretive on this point.

The supply of organic vegetables at wholesale level is currently very varied: year round, retailers can order at least 100 different vegetable products, including potatoes, herbs and mushrooms, while about 30 to 50 different fruits are offered year round.

The most important basic vegetables sold in Germany are:

The most important specialty vegetables are:

The most important fruits sold are:

The most important tropical fruits are:

Apples and bananas are by far the most consumed fruits, followed by oranges (by quantity). The total organic banana market in Germany can be estimated at around 10 000 tonnes per year. Organic apple consumption is estimated to be about 13 000 tonnes (3 000 tonnes of which are imported). This compares to a conventional German apple production of 970 000 tonnes. The most important vegetables are potatoes followed by carrots, red beets and onions (by quantity). Calculated from an average yield and a certain percentage of imports, the quantities sold in tonnes of the following vegetables for fresh consumption can be very roughly estimated:


around 75 000 tonnes


around 35 000 tonnes

Red beets:

around 18 000 tonnes


around 10 000 tonnes


around 10 000 tonnes

The agricultural season in Germany is from March to October, which means that most of the crops grown in the fields are harvested in October, before the first frost sets in. Potatoes, carrots, onions and apples are harvested until autumn and then stored and sold until spring. If possible, German wholesalers, retailers and consumers prefer to buy German or even regional products, rather than products from distant suppliers.

The biggest German production of fruits and vegetables is from June to October which coincides with a considerable decline in sales within Germany due to the summer holiday season. Sales drop by up to 30 percent from May to October. Highest sales are in winter, especially before Christmas. This means that foreign exporters of fruits and vegetables can profit from the peak season.

2.2 Prices and supply of organic fruit and vegetables

There are no official data on price levels for organic products. However, ZMP (Zentrale Markt- und Preisberichtstelle für Erzeugnisse der Land-, Forst- und Ernährungswirtschaft GmbH, in Bonn collects prices from organic farmers and publishes them in the Ökomarktforum, weekly and monthly.

The following table shows prices of selected products sold at farm gate to consumers.

Table 2: Selected vegetables and fruits sold in Germany at farm gate to consumers in April 2001


Prices in DM including VAT from:

Prices in DM including VAT to:

Average price

No. of farmers that supplied data

Potatoes (1 kg)





Carrots (kg, washed)





Onions (kg)





White cabbage (kg)





Red beet (kg)





Lettuce (piece)





Apples (kg)





Source: ZMP, Ökomarktforum No. 17.

The prices collected at farm level include fruit and vegetables sold on farm directly to the consumer, the wholesaler and the retailer. Prices on farm in Germany generally vary considerably for the same product. The wholesale prices for the same product tend to differ less as there is more transparency and competition between the companies and fewer market players. At the retail level, prices differ mostly according to the type of outlet. A natural food store is often more expensive than an organic supermarket or a conventional supermarket that sells organic products. The latter try to stay in a range of premiums of about 20 percent over conventional products, though often they do not.

The availability of organic products may differ from conventional ones. If, for example, there is a sufficient supply of conventional tomatoes but a shortage of organic ones, the latter are much more expensive and the price premium is much higher. The countries supplying organic fruit and vegetables often differ from those that supply conventional products. Whereas in the conventional market most of the fruits and vegetables can be delivered year round, this is still not the case for organic products. For example, there is usually a shortage of organic cucumbers in winter, which leads to much higher prices than for conventional ones. This applies also to organic tomatoes in winter, when demand is high and supply is low.

In summer, the supply of German organic lettuce can lead to keen competition and falling prices due to the vacation season when consumption is low. While price premiums can vary significantly, producer prices tend to stagnate, and costs for logistics tend to fall as bigger quantities are traded. As a result, prices at retail level tend to decline.

Products that consumers expect as part of a basic assortment (such as potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, salads and apples) differ in price depending on whether they are available from German production (cheaper) or have to be imported. Other basic products that have to be imported are lemons, kiwi and bananas.

Seasonal basic products include oranges (not available during the summer months from Italy and Spain). Whether there is a demand for organic oranges at that time must be weighed against the difficult summer market situations. For tropical products, like mangoes and pineapples, consumers are less price sensitive.

2.3 Distribution channels for organic fruit and vegetables

Organic fruit and vegetables are mainly sold through the following channels, listed according to their importance:

The remaining 21 percent of the overall organic market are marketed through other outlets such as bakeries, butchers, etc.

Sales of organic fruits and vegetables in natural food stores and supermarkets are about 18 percent of all organic products. On-farm shops, market stalls and box schemes sell primarily vegetables and fruits.

2.3.1 The natural food stores

In Germany, there are about 2 000 natural food stores that carry a wide range of certified organic products. Usually, they offer the biggest assortment of organic fruit and vegetables in the trade. Most German products are delivered to the stores in returnable boxes and sold loose. Many of the natural food stores still do not have cooled presentation facilities, so often vegetables do not look as fresh as they could. However, this situation is steadily improving. Total sales at natural food stores rise by about 10 percent per year.

2.3.2 The supermarkets

Most of the supermarket chains carry organic food products. For vegetables and fruit, they often concentrate on basic products like potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, bananas and kiwi. In order to distinguish organic products from conventional ones, they are often sold pre-packed or labelled under the supermarkets’ own organic label. Supermarkets are believed to have a big potential for organics, especially if they enlarge their assortment and give fruit and vegetables more shelf space.

There are several supermarket chains that carry organic fruit and vegetables like Rewe, Edeka, Tengelmann and Tegut. Rewe is the most important distributor of organic products in Germany with, according to trade sources, a turnover of DM3 million, and is also believed to be the biggest retailer of organic fresh fruit and vegetables. Rewe sells 200 different organic products. Their main fresh products are potatoes, onions, lemons and carrots. Bananas from the Dominican Republic are in the assortment. Edeka’s best selling vegetables are potatoes and carrots.

Tegut is a smaller supermarket chain based in Fulda. In general, they carry the biggest, freshest and best presented organic assortment with about 1 000 organic products. They sell up to 70 fruit and vegetable products. In some outlets organic produce account for 15-30 percent of total fruit and vegetable sales.

2.3.3 On-farm shops, market stalls and box schemes

Consumers like to visit farm shops as they want to buy directly from the producer and thus have a higher degree of confidence in the organic origin of the product (although most of the products sold in farm shops seem to be bought from wholesalers and are not their own production). The assortment comprises mostly fresh products, i.e. fruit, vegetables, milk products, cereals, bread and bakery products. Very often they are the biggest clients for wholesalers, as far as vegetables and fruits are concerned.

Quite often farm shops also run market stalls on the local markets. Some of them have started box schemes, which means that consumers get boxes with mixed vegetables and fruits of the season or boxes with a complete assortment sent to their homes. This is practical for people who have little time to go shopping or to visit the organic farmer who is usually located far away. Box schemes are also believed to have a big potential in Germany, and their growth rate is considerable (30-40 percent per year), according to trade sources.

2.3.4 Other trade channels for fresh fruits and vegetables

i) Catering

Fresh fruit and vegetables are also sold to catering companies. This is still not very common but is increasing. In specialized processing companies, the fruit and vegetables get washed, cut and packed in plastic bags without any chemical preservatives. It is very important to work in clean conditions as the hygienic requirements are very high. After production and packaging, the fruit and vegetables are sold to catering companies and used over the next four-five days. Catering companies also use frozen organic vegetables.

This channel is not yet well developed, as in the past there were not many good processors/packers. This is changing now. Companies like Käpplein in Waghäusel or Bios in Hamm now have big and modern facilities. Other obstacles for sales through this trade channel are the higher prices for organic products as food services for employees in canteens require low prices. Aramark is planning a general organic line for their 500 canteens throughout Germany. Other catering companies offering organics include Eurest and companies that supply, for example, the universities.

ii) Internet

Some companies like UnitednatureX (currently the biggest in this field) have started to trade organic products via the Internet. They also sell fresh products. The ordered products are delivered to the consumers at home, as in the case of box schemes. As this is a new business, the sales development in this channel has to be observed, and predictions are difficult.

The UnitednatureX b2b (business to business) and b2c (business to consumer) platforms together reached a turnover of DM33.32 million (€17 million) for all organic products last year. The share of fresh products is supposed to be much smaller than in shops or market stalls. The best selling fruits and vegetables are: bananas, kiwi and cucumbers.

A number of b2b and b2c platforms are involved in the whole range of products, including imported products. Web addresses are provided in Annex II.

2.4 Opportunities and constraints to market development at retail level

With the ongoing BSE crisis and other food scares, conventional markets for meat are collapsing. Consumers are becoming more health conscious, and the organic market is therefore predicted to grow faster than previously expected. According to recent press releases, the Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN) expects an overall market growth of about 25 percent in 2001. This is significant, as a considerable market growth is necessary to enable more farmers to convert to organic farming with the potential to sell their products in the organic market at premium prices.

The higher prices of organic products are one of the biggest obstacles to market growth, though prices tend to fall due to the increasingly large quantities traded. Also, not all consumers have trust in organics. As there is a large number of different organic labels in Germany, consumers tend to get confused. However, with the ongoing BSE crisis, consumers are becoming more informed on organic farming.

But it is still often difficult for consumers to find a good selection of organic products as the number of natural food stores is not that big and not all supermarkets carry organic products or they only offer a small assortment. As the Government wants to promote organic farming, the whole organic sector should benefit in the longer run. There are also discussions on having one organic national label only, which would lead to less consumer confusion and help further promote organic products.

2.5 Prospects for processed fruits and vegetables

In the organic market place there is a big variety of processed organic fruit products, while processed organic vegetables are available to a lesser extent. Processed organic fruit and vegetables include:

The market for these products is probably growing at roughly the same pace as the overall organic market, although growth may be stronger for some products. Nevertheless, the potential of different products strongly depends on product quality. In the organic market processed fruits and vegetables play an increasingly important role as "organic" consumers eat more vegetable products than other consumers.

3. Imports of organic fruit and vegetables

3.1 Market access

As an EC member country, Germany applies the European regulations. Currently, the new regulation that forbids the use of ethylene in organic pineapple production (for flowering induction) poses a severe problem to the German market. Since February 2001 the market for fresh organic pineapples has collapsed nearly completely. The potential market demand of more than 1 000 tonnes cannot be supplied as most of the fresh pineapple producers need to use ethylene and can therefore no longer be certified.

In addition, all fresh fruits and vegetables in Germany must be traded and labelled according to categories (Handelsklassen I and II). These categories refer to the size and optical appearance of the products. Some years ago, most of the organic products fulfilled only Handelsklasse II, due to their smaller size or spots on the skin. Nowadays, traders require Handelsklasse I, which means that fruits and vegetables must be very well graded (with a higher loss for the producer), before they enter the trade.

3.2 Imports of organic fruit and vegetables

Demand for organic products is much higher than organic production in Germany. The highest import ratio in comparison to the domestic market is for fruits, with an estimated 56 percent, followed by oilseeds (50 percent), vegetables and wine (36 percent), poultry (20 percent) and cereals (10 percent). Few meat and milk products are imported. This may be partly because there was no EC Regulation for animal organic products until 2000. The market situation may change in the future. In the case of cereals, eggs, poultry and many vegetables, Germany mainly buys from neighbouring countries.

Forty-five percent of all fruits and vegetables sold in Germany are imported. If we consider the extrapolated figure of total organic fruit and vegetable sales of DM800 million, the value of imported organic fruits can be estimated at about DM360 million.

The main supplying countries for organic fruits and vegetables in Germany are Spain, France and Italy, while imports from the other countries are less important:

There is currently no crop that can be delivered 100 percent year round from German production. Even apples have to be imported in small quantities in the autumn to fill the gap between demand and supply.

The most important fruits traded in Germany are bananas, with a market volume of approximately 10 000 tonnes. Mangoes, pineapples and papayas each represent only about one-tenth of this quantity. Bananas now come mainly from the Dominican Republic. Previously, the main supplier was the Canary Islands (Spain), but the production is now sold only to mainland Spain. Besides, these bananas are more expensive than the ones from the Dominican Republic, due to higher labour costs.

Fresh pineapples and papayas come from Cameroon, Guinea and Ghana. How the pineapple market develops in the future will depend mainly on the decision of the EC regarding the use of ethylene. If it remains forbidden, only a sharply reduced supply of organic pineapple will be available.

Mangoes are supplied by the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Cameroon, Guinea and Israel. Mangoes could be sold in much larger quantities if available throughout the year. The German consumer prefers to buy the big mango varieties (calibre 8-14), whereas the smaller mangoes, which are often produced in developing countries, are not accepted by the market.

Table 3: Overview of the most important imported fruits and vegetables by origin


Countries of Origin

Quantities imported (Estimates)



Dominican Republic, Colombia

approx. 10.000 tonnes


Germany, Argentina, New Zealand

approx. 3 000 tonnes


Israel, Cameroon, Guinea

approx.1 000 tonnes


Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana

potential approx. 1 000 tonnes


Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana

approx. 500 tonnes


New Zealand, Italy



Italy, Spain, Greece, Argentina

approx. 10 - 15 000 tonnes


Spain, Israel, South Africa




Germany, Holland, Spain, Argentina, Israel

approx. 2 000 tonnes


Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain

approx. 7 000 tonnes


Germany, Egypt, Spain, Israel

imports relatively low


Germany, Holland, Italy, France, Spain, Israel

German tomatoes only in the summer months, around80-90% imported


Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Morocco,

same situation as for tomatoes

(Israel: mini-cucumbers)

Green Beans

Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, Egypt

a few hundred tonnes

Author’s own sources, 2001.

3.3 Main importers and wholesalers specializing in organic fruit and vegetables

A number of regional wholesalers supply natural food stores with the entire range of products. They buy from importers and trade mainly regional fresh products, if possible.

Usually, supermarkets import organic products via their associated importers for conventional products.

3.4 Product specifications in Germany

Fresh fruits and vegetables are traded according to categories (Handelsklassen, see above) which means that they have to be classified and marked by the producer/packer. In supermarkets products are usually sold pre-packed and labelled to distinguish them from the conventional products. Labelling and pre-packing is done by the importer/distributor in Germany, e.g. Lehmann Natur or Landlinie. In natural food stores returnable boxes are used for German and regional products which are mostly sold loose. German traders are obliged to return all packaging material at their own cost. This also applies to retailers. Returnable boxes are therefore attractive for the organic trade.

3.5 Prices at import and wholesale level

According to trade sources, price premiums range between 10-50 percent at import levels, but can also be lower or higher, depending on actual supply. The tendency is that prices are falling due to economies of scale (bigger quantities, logistics and handling becomes more efficient). This does not necessarily mean that producer prices are also falling.

Table 4 below shows examples of sale prices at wholesale level of fruits and vegetables, which are mainly imported (compiled from July 2000-April 2001). If the margins of importers (around 10-20 percent) and wholesalers (around 35 percent for all organic products) are deducted, one can very roughly estimate the price importers might pay producers (including transport, insurance, etc.). However, it should be noted that all import prices also heavily depend on quality and quantities traded and should not be the only basis on whether to convert to organic farming.

Export prices should always be based on a serious cost calculation. As market prices differ very much according to qualities, quantities, etc., a market check (sending samples to importers) helps exporters to obtain a substantial feedback on the actual market situation.

Table 4: Sale prices at wholesale level of fruits and vegetables (July 2000-April 2001)



Approximate price/unit

Bananas (18 kg)

Dominican Republic

DM3.20 - 3.30/kg year round

Pineapples (10-11 kg)

Cameroon, Guinea

DM6 - 8/kg

Mangoes (4-5 kg)

Dominican Republic, Brazil, Guinea

DM5 - 7/kg

Oranges (9-12 kg)

Italy, Morocco, Spain, Greece

DM2.20 - 2.99/kg

Lemons (6 kg)

Italy, Spain

DM2.20 - 2.70/kg

Potatoes (5-15 kg)

Germany, Spain

DM0.95-1.90/kg(early potatoes)

Carrots (10-12 kg)


DM1.29 - 1.99/kg


DM1.75 - 1.85/kg


Germany, Italy, Argentina

DM1.55 - 2.50/kg

Red beet (5-6 kg)

Germany, Spain

DM1.39 - 2.30/kg

Cabbage (white)

Germany, Spain

DM1.35 - 2.10/kg

3.6 Opportunities and constraints to import growth

Imports of fruits that are not yet supplied year round like mangoes could easily increase if there were enough supply. Also interesting are counter-season products (mainly German winter time), particularly specialty vegetables (see 3.2) and processed fruits and vegetables (frozen, pulps, preserves, dried, etc.) with a market potential, as described earlier. Constraints to import growth are poor quality (optical aspects, bad grading, damaged products upon arrival to Germany). A major problem for importers is the lack of reliability of exporters as well as problems with communication, packaging and logistics.

4. Market opportunities for developing countries

4.1 Main opportunities and constraints

As mentioned earlier, the most important tropical fruit traded is banana. At the moment, the Dominican Republic is the main supplier but importers are always looking for new sources. For organic banana production it is important to find a production site which is free of Black Sigatoka, a disease which cannot be dealt with in organic farming. Good logistics, access to a harbour with regular services to Europe in cooled containers, etc. is also very important. The shipping time should not be too long as organic bananas are more perishable than conventional ones.

The supply of mangoes and avocados does not presently cover the demand. Pineapples currently can only be sold as organic if carbide is not used for floral induction. Apples and pears are interesting products during the off-season in Europe (only valid for countries in the Southern hemisphere).

Oranges from developing countries might have a chance during the European off-season (June-September), although July/August is the low selling season in Germany. Also consumers expect oranges to be of orange colour and therefore tropical green oranges are not accepted by the German buyers.

Tomatoes and specialty vegetables are also interesting to supply during the German winter time, provided that efficient logistics and cooling chains are at hand. Some exotic fruits can find a niche market. Market introduction might be difficult, though, and costly if the products are not yet known to the German consumer. In general, the German consumer is not as open to new products as consumers in the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, for example. Unknown products are very costly to introduce to the consumer. In addition, it is very important to fulfil the quality requirements of the market, and to produce the required varieties at the time they are needed.

4.2 Entry strategy and recommendations for export development

Before starting an export business, it is important to analyse what products can be produced best in the country concerned, as competition between different developing countries and with European countries (e.g. for oranges, lemons, avocados, etc.) will occur. An up-to-date check of the target markets before conversion is crucial. Nevertheless, the problem is that between the market check and the possible first shipment three years may pass because of the necessary conversion period. Also, a market has to be found for the products in conversion, which are generally not traded in the organic market in Germany. This usually makes it difficult for exporters/producers. Therefore, it is advised that exporters look for an importing partner and that they develop an export project together. A good starting point may be to visit an organic trade fair, such as Biofach (Nuremberg) to get personal contacts in the business. Furthermore, producing good quality products is very important (good post-harvest handling, cooling facilities, packaging, good, fast and reliable logistical chain are needed). It is important to have the necessary technical know-how in organic production. A feasibility study conducted by experts is very useful before taking the decision to convert to organic agriculture. Contact details of consultants in your country or international ones can be obtained from IFOAM and GTZ (see Annex I).

Annex I
Selected addresses

Major importers, traders, processors

Lehmann Natur GmbH
Am Churkamp 20
D - 47059 Duisburg
Tel.: +49 - 203 - 932 550
Fax: +49 - 203 - 932 5599
(importer, distributor for

Biotropic (see Lehmann Natur)
(importer for natural food stores)

Ernst Weber Naturkost
Postfach 75 09 54
D - 81339 München
Tel.: +49 - 89 - 746 3420
Fax: +49 - 89 - 746 34222
(importer and wholesaler)

Naturkost Schramm
Ludwig-Winter-Strasse 6
D - 77767 Appenweier
Tel.: +49 - 7805 - 96680
Fax: +49 - 7805 - 966880
(importer and wholesaler)

Landlinie Lebensmittel
Vertrieb GmbH & Co. KG
An der Hasenkaule 24
D - 50345 Hürth
Tel.: +49 - 2233 - 974510
Fax: +49 - 2233 - 9745199
(importer and wholesaler)

Terra Frischdienst
Gross-Berliner-Damm 83
D - 12487 Berlin-Johannisthal
Tel.: +49 - 30 - 631 05 16
Fax: +49 - 30 - 631 69 75

Handelskontor Willmann GmbH
Tafingerstr. 8
D - 71665 Vaihingen
Tel.: +49 - 7042 - 9570
Fax: +49 - 7042 - 957129

Dennree Versorgungs GmbH
Hofer Str.11
D - 95183 Töpen
Tel.: +49 - 9295 - 180
Fax: +49 - 9295 - 1850
(wholesaler and importer)

Rewe AG
Domstr. 20
D - 50668 Köln
Tel.: +49 - 221 - 1490
Fax: +49 - 221 - 149 9000
(distributor and supermarket chain)

Gabriele Rempe GmbH
D - 59010 Hamm
Tel.: +49 - 2381 - 543250
Fax: +49 - 2381 - 5432540
(processor of fruits and
vegetables for catering

Bio-Betrieb Käpplein GmbH
Am Fernmeldeturm 6
D - 68753 Waghäusel
Tel.: +49 - 7254 - 60975
Fax: +49 - 7254 - 950228
(processor of fruits and
vegetables for catering

Fruchtsaftkelterei GmbH
Birkelstr. 11
D - 71384 Weinstadt-Endersbach
Tel.: +49 - 7151 - 995150
Fax: +49 - 7151 - 9951555
(producer of juices)

Voelkel KG
Pevestorf 23
D - 29478 Höhbeck
Tel.: +49 - 5846 - 9500
Fax: +49 - 5846 - 95050
(producer of juices)

Münchner Str. 58
D - 85276 Pfaffenhofen a.d.Ilm
Tel.: +49 - 8441 - 757 481
Fax: +49 - 8441 - 757 492
(producer of baby foods)

Grüner Punkt Naturkost GmbH
Schwanenkirchner Str. 28
D - 94491 Hengersberg
Tel.: +49 - 9901 - 1842
Fax: +49 - 9901 - 1875
(distributor of fruit pulps and aromes)

Organizations, institutions and certifiers in the organic sector

IFOAM (International
Federation of Organic Farming
Ökozentrum Imsbach
D - 66636 Tholey-Theley
Tel.: +49 - 6853 - 5190
Fax: +49 - 6853 - 30110

(Gesellschaft für Technische
Programmbüro Sozial- und
Postfach 5180
D - 65726 Eschborn
Tel.: +49 - 6196 - 791462
Fax: +49 - 6196 - 797173
(German Technical Assistance to
Developing countries)

Ökoprüfzeichen (ÖPZ) GmbH
(German organic label)
Rochusstrasse 2
D - 53123 Bonn
Tel.: +49 - 228 - 9777700
Fax: +49 - 228 - 9777799

Selection of certifiers, that are very experienced in inspection and certification or building up of local certification bodies outside of Germany (developing countries)

BCS Ökogarantie GmbH
Cimbernstrasse 21
D - 90402 Nürnberg
Tel.: +49 - 911 - 424390
Fax: +49 - 911 - 492239

Ecocert GmbH
Sulte 20a
D - 37520 Osterode
Tel.: +49 - 5522 - 951 161
Fax: +49 - 5522 - 951 164

GfRS (Gesellschaft für Ressourcenschutz)
Prinzenstr. 4
D - 37073 Göttingen
Tel.: +49 - 551 - 58657
Fax: +49 - 551 - 58774

IMO Institut für Marktökologie
Paradiesstr. 13
D - 78462 Konstanz
Tel.: +49 - 7531 - 915273
Fax: +49 - 7531 - 915274

Annex II

Sources of information on the German organic market (Web sites, magazines, directories...)

Selected b2b and b2c platforms:

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