Review of events

Businesses discuss organic market, regenerative and more

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, business active in and interested in organic met again in person at IFOAM Organics Europe. During a day full of inspiring sessions and networking opportunities, the European organic sector exchanged on market developments, the role of regenerative, regulatory affairs and pesticide residues in organic. 

Political developments & the role of organic 

In the morning, Pasquale di Rubbo, Policy Analyst at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) and Eric Gall, Deputy Director at IFOAM Organics Europe, provided the European frame by painting a bigger picture on political developments and market development 

Pasquale di Rubbo, elaborated that by 2030, Europe wants to be carbon neutral. There is a lot of work ahead of us still, and agriculture can play its part! He reminded participants about the EU Farm to Fork Strategy’s goals – 50% less pesticides, 25% of the agricultural under organic. Di Rubbo added that the sustainable Food Systems Framework Law (expected late 2024) will help realise this in systemic way, stressing that Europe is moving to a knowledge-driven agriculture, producing more food while being sustainable 

Eric Gall stated that the organic market, similar to the conventional market, is impacted by inflation and speculation. However,  in certain countries the organic sector seems less affected than the conventional one but there are decreases in the market compared to 2021.  Still, it is important to keep in mind that the EU Commission defined organic as the way forward to reach EU Farm to Fork’s targets. The French Court of Auditors similarly concluded that organic contributes after thorough research.. 

Organic and regenerative 

Sarah Compson, Associate Director, Standards Innovation at the Soil Association, opened the highly anticipated session on organic and regenerative agriculture. She reminded us that organic is regenerative at heart. The regenerative movement is not new, but it is upcoming.  Within “regenerative agriculture” there are opportunities, like elevating organic farming, as well as risks, for example, greenwashing, confusion and distraction and delay to transform food and farming. Sarah ended by challenging the audience to consider that regenerative agriculture could  be a steppingstone on the journey in the conversion  to organic agriculture. 

Following, Dorothy Shaver, Sustainability Director for Nutrition and IC at Unilever, clarified that Unilever launched regenerative agriculture principles on top of their sustainable agriculture and as an ecosystem approach – elaborating on some of Unilever’s sustainability practices. During her presentation, Dorothy stressed that Unilever would be willing to collaborate with the organic movement to achieve environmental targets.  

Providing an activist contrast , Ronald van Marlen, Extinction Rebel and founder of NanaBio, followed up with critical remarks. According to Ronald, there are three types of regenerative: those of the social movement, organic & corporate. He urged the organic movement and sector to lead on regenerative agriculture and to join with social movements to strive for sustainable food systems. The last speaker, Paul Holmbeck, Director of Holmbeck EcoConsult, tried to identify a common ground   stating: 

  • Regenerative agriculture does not have a transformative agenda and is rather a set of practices but there is a clear lack of definitions; 
  • There are many false claims that regenerative agriculture is going beyond organic. Serious actors can be allies to the organic movement while the practices are no issue; 
  • Regenerative goals and practices are already at organic agriculture’s heart. Regenerative should not only be about single practices but have organic’s principles at heart and change the system. 

A lively debate between panellist and the audience took place after the speaker´s presentations . Concluding the first sessions, speakers agreed that it is necessary to have a clear definition of regenerative agriculture and that the organic movement needs to listen to new ideas regenerative brings. But it is important to act now and take the lead as organic movement – which is also the basis of regenerative.  

Regulatory affairs & pesticide residues 

The second half of the day was an in-depth session on regulatory affairs, including an update on the EU Organic Regulation and its many implementing acts that still need to be finished. Bernard Lignon, Quality and Regulatory Project Manager, Synabio and Jan Wicher Krol, Policy Advisor, SKAL Bio Controle provided their expertise to this. 

On a related topic, pesticide residues, Marian Blom, Board Member of IFOAM Organics Europe & Project Leader at Bionext presented the very important project IFOAM Organics Europe is running, collecting data on pesticide use and contamination in Europe.. 

Michel Reynaud, Board Member of IFOAM Organics Europe and Vice-President of Ecocert and Alexander Beck, Managing Board Member of AöL shared their insights on pesticides residue handling in case of contamination. The workshop ended with a 45-minute workshop on new GMOs where working groups discussed new genetic engineering and questions arising for the organic sector in case of a deregulation at EU level regarding so called ‘New Genomic Techniques’ like CRISPR/Cas9. The results reflect a broad spectrum of opinions on the topic of co-existence and arising challenges. For more information on the GMO workshop, reach out to [email protected]

Presentation of IFOAM Organics Europe meets business 2022 are available on our website, you can also check #IFOAMOEMeetsBusiness2022. Stay tuned for next year’s event updates by following @OrganicsEurope on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter

Should you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

“Being Organic in EU” project events in Biofach

The BEING ORGANIC in EU project is a promotion campaign proposed by FederBio in cooperation with Naturland co-financed by the European Union under EU Regulation No. 1144/2014., which aims to increase and strengthen the consideration of European organic farming in the Italian and German markets by raising awareness and recognition of EU organic farming practices and the EU organic logo. 

IFOAM Organics Europe was happy to take part in the project organising 2 sessions and 1 networking reception in Biofach, the biggest and most prestigious international fair for organic, happening yearly in Nuremberg, Germany. 

  • European organic market developments (analyses). We discussed EU organic market developments with Marco Santori (AssoBio/Alcenero) and Steffen Reese (Naturland). Steffen Reese mentioned the current crisis the organic market is facing, explaining that we should put it into perspective: we must use the pre-COVID-19 year as baseline (less organic demand than the Covid years) & increase information flow to consumers, so they can make informed choices and buy organic more. Marco Santori inspired the audience encouraging everyone to be and do better, just like organic producers. He also highlighted the crucial role of simple & aggregate communication between organic operators & consumers. All the session’s speakers agreed on and stressed the importance of sharing international experiences across borders, which is made possible by EU promotional projects, like Being Organic in EU. 
  • We organised the project Networking Reception in Biofach. It was a great occasion to learn more about the Being Organic in EU campaign & mingle with organic stakeholders, all while tasting some delicious organic food & drinks. IFOAM Organics Europe Director Eduardo Cuoco, along with Paolo Carnemolla (Federbio) & Marco Schlüter (Naturland), gave an introduction to the project. Jorge Pinto Antunes, Deputy Head of Cabinet of DG AGRI Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, was present at the reception  and highlighted the importance of EU promotional campaigns for organic stakeholders and for the future of the organic sector.  
  • Lastly, we discussed the topic of Sustainability Labelling, high at the moment on the EU political agenda, crucial to understand for organic stakeholders and with high potential impact on organic demand. Our Deputy Director and Policy Manager Eric Gall, informed the audience that the current LCA-based methodology (the Product Environmental Footprint – PEF) envisaged by policymakers to inform the next sustainability labels, is not fit to assess the environmental impact of agri-food products and might favour intensive production systems rather than sustainable farming methods, such as organic practices. Sabine Bonnot (ITAB) explained that alternatives exist, such as the PlanetScore. This sustainability label used in France also uses PEF as basis but considers other externalities not sufficiently considered in the LCA methodology (pesticides, climate, biodiversity&animal welfare) through a bonus/malus system. Judith Faller-Moog, President of BioPlanète, also endorsed the PlanetScore as a more encompassing label, which would contribute to reaching the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy objectives. 

We also talked at the press conference “Organic Farming in Europe and market scenario in Italy” organised under the project. We highlighted that in the context of the global economic slowdown, more powerful and impactful consumer communication will be essential to revitalize the organic market. The policies, such as EU promotion schemes can play a role here. More organic associations, producers and distributors should make use of this funding.   

Funded by the project Being Organic in EU of the European Union, coordinated by Federbio and Naturland. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. 

Innovative solutions in organic fruit production – BIOFRUITNET project’s final conference

Organic farming relies on knowledge and information flow and has a biodiversity-based approach to plant health. Sharing the available best practices through stronger networks is crucial to support organic farmers across Europe.  

BIOFRUITNET project’s final event focused on

  • The latest innovations and solutions in pome, stone and citrus fruits including strategies on pest and disease control, soil management and biodiversity, and 
  • The most suitable varieties and rootstocks.  

Our experts shared experience on strengthening networks in organic fruit growing production and efficiently disseminate the best practices to farmers and advisers. The online conference gives the opportunity to interact with speakers and access to a wide range of tools and materials. 

Check the BIOFRUITNET website  and follow us on our social media: Facebook , Twitter and Linkedln

BIOFRUITNET will strengthen the competitiveness of European organic fruit production through strong knowledge networks. Within BIOFRUITNET, IFOAM Organics Europe leads the knowledge transfer and dissemination through easy-to-read end user materials, such as practice abstracts and videos. IFOAM Organics Europe is also responsible for developing a communication kit to maximize the impact of BIOFRUITNET at events, fairs, and congresses. BIOFRUITNET is an EU Horizon 2020-funded project. 

IFOAM Organics Europe at carbon farming panel discussion

IFOAM Organics Europe has been invited to participate to the event “Carbon farming – New potential for farmers or Greenwashing?”. The conference was organised by the MEPs Benoit Biteau, Bas Eickhout and Martin Häusling. 

The context for this event was the proposal for a framework on carbon removal certification published by the European Commission at the end of November 2022. This legislation aims to define rules and consequently also methodologies for carbon certificates from carbon farming, such as soil organic carbon sequestration or agroforestry. The proposal is currently in the co-decision process and being discussed in the European Parliament. 

The conference on 7 February 2023 brought together policymakers, researchers, NGOs and farmers’ representatives to discuss risks and opportunities of carbon farming. The event provided an overview of the Commission’s proposal, presented local initiatives and highlighted the role that regions could play in the process. It also gave a scientific perspective on soil carbon and management practices and an analysis of carbon markets. 

Hanna Winkler, Policy Officer for Climate Change and Biodiversity, represented IFOAM Organics Europe in the debate. She stressed the importance of a holistic approach and the need to look beyond carbon into biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Hanna furthermore highlighted that systemic approaches like organic farming and agroecology need to be promoted and incentivized in order to achieve all targets of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy. 

You can watch the full recording of the event in English here and also in German here

If you are interested in IFOAM Organics Europe’s work with regard to carbon farming, take a look at our position paper and at our reaction to the Commission’s proposal.  

Speakers of the event were:   

  • Laure Bamière, INRAE 
  • Axel Don, Thünen Institut 
  • Ana Karen Zapata, Climate Trade    
  • Ben Lilliston, IATP 
  • Martin Häusling, MEP for Greens/EFA   
  • Christian Holzleitner, Head of Unit for Land Economy and Carbon Removals, DG CLIMA  
  • Loïg Chesnais Girard, President of the Region Brittany, France 
  • Aurélie Mézière, Mayor of the French municipality Plessé 
  • Morgan Ody, La Via Campesina  
  • Hanna Winkler, IFOAM Organics Europe  
  • Benoit Biteau, MEP for Greens/EFA 
  • Bas Eickhout, MEP for Greens/EFA 

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

Promotion policies 2023: How can the organic sector make the most of this opportunity? – Member-only webinar

Our member-only sessions ‘Let’s Discuss Organic’ are back! Take part in our monthly online live sessions in which you, our members, can actively engage with experts, deepen your knowledge or exchange on specifically chosen topics. 

The first session took place on 23 February on ’Promotion Policies and how to make the most of it’

The EU has set up promotion policy to open new market opportunities for EU farmers and the wider food industry. In particular, the European Commission is prioritising promotion of sustainable practices in EU agriculture. As the most advanced sustainable method, organic should make good use of these promotion policies. This webinar provided guidance and concrete tips on how to submit successful applications. 

Among the speakers there were representatives from the European Commission to present the new annual work program, its priorities and provide us with insights to submit a successful application. Some of our members that are currently running a promotion programme will also shared their experiences! 

The second session took place on 21 March and was about carbon farming and carbon certification. Our colleague Hanna Winkler explained what is the latest proposal of the European Commission and what it is needed for a holistic approach. 

Our next session will take place on the 18 April – on Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR): a needed reform under attacksRegistrations are open here.

Stay tuned for more information on upcoming sessions! Have a specific topic you would like to learn about more or discuss it with other IFOAM Organics Europe members? Let us know via [email protected].   

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

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