Organic products less popular in Belgium due to high inflation

Organic products less popular in Belgium due to high inflation
A local organic store in Brussels. Credit: Helen Lyons/The Brussels Times

Sales of organic products are down 15-30% in some stores in Belgium, becoming increasingly unpopular among consumers due to high inflation, according to RTL Info.

Last month, inflation held steady at 8.31%, levels unseen in Belgium in over 39 years. This inflation is largely driven by high energy prices, which pushed up the axis by at least 4.56% this year.

Food inflation has risen sharply in recent months. In April, inflation for food products and alcohol stood at 5.09%, up from 4.63% the month before. Inflation on bread rose to 10.2%, up from just 1.7% last November. For cereals, this figure is 9.3%, and 25.4% for edible oils.

As a result of these rising prices, organic products, which are generally viewed by Belgian consumers as a luxury good, are increasingly falling out of favour. The result of this is a vast reduction in organic sales across the country.

Even before the beginning of the war in Ukraine, which severely raised the price of cereals and oils in Europe, organic products were on the decline.

In February, sales of organic products were down 30%, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF. In just one year, sales of all types of organic products fell by a third, rapidly accelerating in the Spring. This is also evidenced by the downturn in sales observed at farmers markets across Belgium.

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In a comment to RTL, Frédéric Depelchin, manager of an organic store in Wallonia, stated that many organic stores have already begun to close.

“We really felt a significant drop in sales of organic products from the beginning of March, when energy prices soared from the start of the war,” the owner said.

This year-long slump is particularly disappointing for business owners after record successes during the pandemic. In 2020, the organic industry grew by 15.4%.

In total, 15% of farms in Wallonia have now opted to produce organic products, which ultimately cost more and attract a more select clientele. With customers increasingly adapting their shopping habits to high inflation, this downwards trend in organic products shows no sign of slowing.

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