Current Trends In The Organic Food Industry

Seema has been associated with Nourish Organics for a decade now, prior to which she held the role of Managing Trustee at National Trust for the Handicapped.

The Indian organic food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 23 percent by 2023 with the Indian government encouraging farmers to take-up organic farming practices and consumers opting for more organic food. Online availability and shifting consumer preferences towards organic food are the major factors that will boost demand for organic food products in India during the forecast period.

The organic boom started a decade ago with people becoming increasingly aware of the side effects of artificial chemicals in food production and looking for better alternatives. Other factors driving growth in this market are higher income levels and improved standard of living. Moreover, organic farmers are able to produce higher yield output with the help of modern agriculture methods and do not require the use of chemical pesticides, hormones, preservatives or genetic modifications, which in-turn makes their produce more nutritious. The current trends driving the organic food demand are:

Increase In Access To Information About Organic Food
The surge of smartphone usage in India along with low-cost internet has led to increased access to information about organic food. Alongside this, the rise in e-Commerce platforms has allowed consumers to act on this information and purchase organic food instead of artificially grown food. Moreover, e-Commerce platforms also made the sector more competitive with many players entering the industry. This further expanded the growth of the organic food industry, as it is not only widespread in Tier-I cities now, but also gaining substantial market share in Tier-II & III cities. With more and more people in the country being able to access education as well as mobile phones, digital literacy is set to go up, and with growing e-Commerce penetration, the organic industry is all set to witness a massive boom.

In order to ensure smooth transmission of organic food from one place to another, an effective supply chain structure must be in place

Safety & Nutrition
Several studies have found that organic food contains higher amounts of essential nutrients and minerals such as Vitamin C, iron and zinc than non-organic foods. More-over, they are almost always served fresh, making the most of their nutritional values, unlike processed foods which are artificially preserved for a longer shelf life. It is also a common practice for farms to inject artificial hormones and give antibiotics to their livestock, which are found in products like meat, eggs & milk and can cause hormonal imbalance as well as the development of drug resistant bacteria in human beings. Organically farmed produce do not use any artificial compounds to enhance food quality, and thereby reduce the risk of any complications.

Numerous studies have shown that organically grown crops have higher levels of antioxidants than those grown commercially. This is because plants use more antioxidants to defend themselves against diseases when grown in the soil consumed by pesticides. Organic food is grown without any chemicals, which makes it more safe and nutritious than non-organic food.

International Demand For Indian Organic Food
Due to India's favourable agricultural climatic conditions, coupled with an inherited tradition of organic farming, the country is able to produce high quality organic products which are a hit with consumers not only in India, but abroad as well. As per reports, India exported organic products worth $515 million in the financial year 2017-2018, and this will only increase in the coming years.

India exports tonnes of organic oil seeds, cereals, mil-lets, sugar, fruit juice concentrates, tea, spices, pulses, dry fruits as well as medicinal plant products overseas, which has not only led to the growth of the sector, but also placed India's organic produce at par with the global standard. Indian organic farmers have been able to produce food that is consistent in quality as well organic traceability with the help of their traditional knowledge of organic farming.

The Way Forward
An analysis of the current trends in the organic food market reveals that there is a likelihood of the industry expanding and demand increasing in the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, in order to ensure smooth transmission of organic food from one place to another, an effective supply chain structure must be in place. This must operate with coordination between cost and logistics, given the perish-able nature of most organic produce.

Moreover, it is essential for the Indian government to support and promote organic farming by extending financial help to those farmers who adopt organic farming along with ensuring an accreditation programme for certification bodies and standards for organic production which facilitate fair farming practices and in the end good organic produce.