The price gets in the way of the sale of organic meat

Two-thirds of buyers of organic pork would be more likely to buy organic meat if it were cheaper. ‘Organic has the image of expensive. The other benefits will not lower the price perception ‘, says director Allard Bakker in De Groene Weg.

Market research conducted by the marketing organization De Groene Weg shows that freshness, taste and price are the most important pillars when buying organic meat, while the emphasis in the promotion is often environmentally and animal-friendly. “People already know that. So we do not need to focus on that,” says Bakker. He spoke on Friday during the opening of the organic pig farm at the Exterkate family in Bentelo in Overijssel.

According to the director of De Groene Weg, increasing sales of organic meat is a challenge. In 2020, in the first corona year, the consumption of organic pork picked up speed. In the second corona year, the consumption of organic meat fell back to the old level.

Bakker is convinced that if the corona pandemic had lasted shorter, it would have been better for the sale of organic meat. “In the second year, everyone longed for what it was like before the corona, and that was also reflected in the consumption pattern,” he explains.

Market share

Organic meat has a market share of almost 4 percent in the Netherlands. The director of De Groene Weg calls this disappointing. “It should be more.” But a market share of 25 percent, to which Vice-President Frans Timmermans of the European Commission is committed, is not necessary, according to him. ‘Then other forces will come into play, leading to a disruption of the market. We only saw that recently in Germany ‘, says Bakker.

According to the director of De Groene Weg, it is more important to boost organic consumption than to stimulate production. If the consumer asks for organic meat, the production automatically follows. In the Netherlands, more than half of the buyers of organic meat live in the western part of the country. People with a higher income and a smaller household spend more money on it.

Half go abroad

In the Netherlands, 1 percent of pig farmers are organic and 3,000 organic pigs are slaughtered each year. Half of this is sold abroad. Bakker: ‘There should be enough space to sell all that in Holland.’ He believes the government has a role to play in stimulating the consumption of ecology.

Organic pig breeders can also play a major role in this. Bakker illustrates this with the 115 pig farmers associated with De Groene Weg. When they host an open day each year, it attracts an average of about a thousand visitors. ‘Then you already have 115,000 ambassadors for your sector. Who better to tell the story than the pig farmer himself ‘. This is what the director of De Groene Weg calls smart marketing.

Connection with the consumer

“Keeping pigs for me also means reconnecting with the consumer. It is alienated from food ‘, says Ruben Exterkate about his motives for converting conventional farms to organic. For that reason, a lookout area will also be added to his business.

His plan was always to scale the company further. The company had 750 lakes and the idea was to grow to 3,000 lakes. The necessary permits for this had already been obtained and the financing in the bank had been arranged. Then the doubt began. Does it suit me how I want to be a farmer? Does it suit the environment and the Netherlands? ‘ remembers Exterkate.

An intensive semester followed with many conversations with different people. The decision was made: the company was to be transformed into 170 organic lakes with 1,000 slaughterhouse places. ‘The world is changing, and you should not be blind to that,’ says the Twentieth entrepreneur. In September 2020, the Exterkate family began to run the business empty. The last piglets left in March 2021 and the first organic piglets were born in June 2021.

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