Organic foods Local and Global demand

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In most developed countries the organic food market is below two per cent of the total food market, but growing rapidly. Global retail sales of organic products, which were valued at US$ 25 billion in 2003 are currently worth US$31 billion and growing at over 20 per cent per annum ( compared to about 3 per cent growth rate of the food market overall)

Popular organic products

Cereals, staples (rice and wheat) coffee, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, species, pickles, jams and bakery products.

Shortage for organic foods

Organic products are facing a major shortage and one of them was red chillies, which experienced a major scarcity all over the world. This is because the area under cultivation of organic crops was not that high. Conversion of land from chemically grown to organic cultivated crops takes one to three years because of factors strigent certification process, assessment of the products by the certifying agencies, soil tests, transaction certificates for traders for every consignment regardless of quantity of product from the farmers which is also carried out by the certifying agency, informed experts.

Hassles for organic food growers

Coming to the issue of Organic foods being expensive, experts pointed out that lower yields during the first few years of organic cultivation, coupled wih the risk against pests and diseases an organic farmer can not risk losing his organic status by using chemicals to fight pests and dieases so even if the losses are heavy the farmer has to bear it. The only consolation for the farmer can not risk losing his organic status by using chemicals to fight pests and diseases, so even if the losses are heavy the farmer has to bear it. The only consolation for the farmer is the lower cost of organic inputs with reference to chemical inputs and organic prices ranges from 15 to 50% of conventional prices. Another issues is the high cost of organic certification, higher operation costs and lower volumes because of high cost processing.

Yet another problem is the transportation and storage. Unlike conventional products that can be procured from the nearest producers, certified organic products may have to be trucked over large distances. Small volumes increase the per unit cost of transport by many times the cost of full truckloads. An inherent problem in organic foods is that the godowns and cargo it can not be fumigated or sprayed with chemicals to control pests. Hence continuous manual cleaning along with carbon dioxide treatment and vacuum is undertaken. Cold storage is also not recommended for loss of natural values , stated the experts.

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Author: Subramani Chinnaraj
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