Simone Greene, Milan Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food BoardIOA Webmaster
Simone Greene, Milan Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
Organic food is the only category that has experienced consistent growth despite the consumption crisis that Italy has been undergoing over the last few years. According to Nielson figures, whilst overall sales fell (-0.7%) the organic food sector registered an increase of 12% in sales figures in the distribution channel alone. This is the equivalent of around €737 million, 16% of which came in the first quarter of the year, which marked a 1.1% increase on 2013 figures. However, this is just distribution, if all channels are taken into consideration (specialist food shops, food service etc.) this figure is considerably higher with sales of €2.5 billion in 2014.
Over the last five years sales for organic food in the supermarket channel has experienced double digit growth. But despite these positive figures, it is important to remember that supermarket sales represent a relatively small proportion of food spending, a mere 2.5% in comparison to over 8 % in Denmark. Although a small percentage, it represents around 3.2 million families in Italy.
According to Nielsen, the driver behind the increasing organic sales is Italian demand to consume high quality produce. This is an ongoing trend in Italy where 65% of the population consume products from checked/controlled origin, 56% eat only Italian products, 34% only consume food that is classified as 0km produce, and 20% consume organic food. 47% of Italians buy food that costs more than average and 41% actively choose not to buy the cheapest products.
In terms of the organic products consumers are buying, the most popular in Italy are: eggs, fruit, bread, soya based drinks, rice, pasta, ready meals, oils, biscuits, flour, yoghurt, vegetables and dairy products. According to Nielsen statistics, the most prominent age groups consuming organic products are 25-44 year olds and 55-64 year olds. The reason these groups are consuming organic products are because they are generally educated and possess a degree, meaning they have a higher income. 67% of organic food consumption happens in northern Italy, with central and Southern parts of Italy registering high levels of growth.
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