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Organic products in demand

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Central America has potential to become an organic food exporting power.

By taking advantage of growing global organic food markets, Central American countries can diversify and boost their agricultural exports.

The U.S. organic market is expected to continue with its solid growth rate, with an annual rate of 14 percent through 2018, according to a TechSci Research report.

The Organic Trade Association, OTA, said about 81 percent of U.S. families reported to be purchasing organic food at least some times, according to a 2012 study.

South Korea represents another strong market for the region, with a growing interest for health food. The Asian country imports 70 percent of its food, and Koreans have a preference for products they consider healthy and are willing and able to pay higher prices for them.

However, the cost of the Korean government's certification process for foreign farms is higher than in other countries. Fresh produce is also less likely to have an opportunity in the country, as there is a protectionist attitude towards local farmers, OTA said.

In Europe, France and the Netherlands are the strongest markets.

Although the Netherlands is the world's third largest agricultural exporter, its organic production is still small, with currently some 1.4 percent of its total agricultural lands producing organic food. Consumption of those products is only 1 percent of the total, making it one the least advanced in Europe in terms of organic food.

France's organic market grew four-fold from 2001 to 2011.

An Organic World study showed that four out of 10 french consumers buy organic products at least once a month, while 56 percent said that it is normal for organic food to be more expensive. The market is also more developed, with a growing interest for processed foods as well as fresh.

In Central America, organic agriculture is largely in the hands of small and medium producers, with coffee being the top product.

After coffee, the region's main organic products are banana, cocoa, sesame seeds, pineapple, cotton, cardamom, honey, sugar, ginger, pepper and beef, according to the Inter-American Institution for Cooperation in Agriculture.