During the COVID 19 pandemic the demand for organic food went up as consumers perceived them as being healthier and good for immunity. However, otherwise too, demand for organic food is increasing at a continuous pace. According to an Expert Market Research report the Indian organic food market stood at a value of USD 849.5 million in 2020. For the forecast period of 2021 – 2026, the trend in the organic food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 20.5% to reach about USD 2601 million by 2026 (4).
Trends in growth of organic food market
In India, there has been a paradigm shift post the 2020 pandemic as consumers began to buy more organic foods as a preventive health measure. This change in perception is likely to drive the growth of the organic food market in future as well. In fact, all over the globe, there has been a growth in the organic food and beverage market particularly fruit and vegetables.
In fact, the biggest share in the organic food market comes from fruit and vegetables, followed by bread, cereals, milk and meat. Organically grown fresh fruit takes the leading position in international trade too. While the production and sale of organic food comes mainly from developed countries, even developing countries have begun to produce and export organic foods and products. India is a leader in the export of organic tea, basmati rice and cotton. Another area where India can see a demand in the export market is through organic vegetables.
Organic fruit and vegetables
The demand for organic fruit and vegetables is likely to continue right till the forecast year 2026. The rich nutrition value in organic fruit and vegetables is the main reason why they are in demand in the domestic as well as global market. Fruit and vegetables contain rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates and calcium. Also, studies have shown that when testing was carried out, then organically grown fruit and vegetables proved to taste better. Other studies show that organic foods may have more antioxidants compared to conventionally grown varieties which makes them more beneficial for health, including prevention of cancer.
Several other reasons for demand
In the last decade there has been an increase in awareness among people about other positive effects of organic foods like the following:
Fitness, health and wellbeing: One of the main motives for the consumption of organic food is of course that they do not contain harmful chemicals and pollutants, as some chemicals could lead to cancer and other serious medical problems. Consumers have also begun to realise that their energy and fitness levels also increase when they consume organic food. People with allergies to certain foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms decrease or go away when they consume only organic foods.
Harmful effects of pesticides: To increase crop production several man-made pesticides are used which are leading to the depletion of water tables and soil contamination. Organic farming is eco-friendly and more sustainable since there is no soil and water contamination from use of synthetic chemicals. Farming without the use of pesticides also provides a healthier life for small animals and humans who live close to or work on the farms.
Use of antibiotics: Use of antibiotics on livestock is causing a poor immune response in humans. Animals that are organically raised do not receive antibiotics, growth hormones and are not fed any animal by-products. The animals are also given more space to move about outdoors, which ensures better health for the animal.
Unsafe food and food safety: Worldwide organic food has gained popularity because they are produced in an agricultural system that provides food that is free from toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). So organic products are seen as being of high quality and are considered safer for both health and the environment. Moreover, the certification processes that organic food have to undergo, makes it clear that the food has been grown and processed according to the standards required for certification.
Environmental protection: Organic farmers follow strict cultivation standards which has a positive impact on soil, water and air. Natural farming methods also conserve biodiversity and maintain the natural balance of the ecosystem. Organic agriculture helps the fight against global warming as organically produced food is distributed locally and so less energy is used for transportation which automatically reduces carbon dioxide emission.
Other advantages of organic foods
We can clearly see that as awareness about the benefits of organic food grows, the demand for them is growing proportionally. Besides this, other reasons for the demand of organic food are that they
- have high nutritional value
- have high biological quality even when stored for longer periods of time
- are more suitable for processing and distribution due to their longer shelf life.
- need less energy to be processed
- have higher organoleptic properties like colour, fragrance and taste
- contain no residues of pesticides, heavy metals or hormones.
Consumer spending on health
In recent years, Indian consumers have started paying more attention to their health, the nutrient content and quality of the food they eat. Due to these concerns, they have gradually begun shifting towards organic food, even though organic foods are priced higher than conventional foods. This awareness among consumers is further giving a boost to the organic market as consumers are willing to pay for them if it is going to benefit their health and wellness. Also, in places where consumers are aware about the safety and quality of organic products, the market is growth is increasing, since consumers are willing to pay higher prices.