Food Navigator, a European-focused food news site, reports that The European Union Commission has launched a marketing program aimed at building awareness of organic produce in young people. The main slogan of the program is: “Organic farming: Good for nature, good for you.” However, even with that slogan the commission insists it is not claiming any health benefits for organics but rather supporting the growth of the organic sector. It’s an interesting concept that a government agency might try and support two different approaches to providing the same product in one sector – conventional and organic produce. Is there a conflict of interest here when these two products are competing for the same consumer monies?
The commission also has an established program supporting farmers who want to change from conventional to organic farming methods. And with projections such as those from The UK Soil Association – a 10% growth for sales of organic products this year, which it says is four to five times higher than for the general food market in a good year – it would seem to make good business sense for farmers to switch over.
In addition, if the secondary marketing slogan for the Commission’s campaign is correct, “Organic products meet consumer demand for authentic, high quality and tasty food,” than perhaps the US Department of Agriculture will consider the EU’s organic programs as a model for how to help the businesses in its sector to produce what consumers are demanding. The USDA also says consumer demand for organics has been growing in double digits for more then a decade and that in 2005 the market was about $15.7 billion, 2.5% of total food sales. Ideally the USDA’s help for organic businesses would include tools to keep the prices closer to conventional produce, but baby steps first. Just having the US government run an ad campaign for organic farming would be something to see.