eSpecial BioFach | Corona crisis

World's leading organic trade fair focuses on transformation

The Biofach will take place digitally in 2021.
The Biofach will take place digitally in 2021.

Biofach, the world's leading trade fair for organic food, will take place in 2021 purely digitally as an eSpecial from 17 - 19 February. Due to the current dynamic development of the corona pandemic, the global organic industry meets for its annual "class reunion" in the virtual "classroom". The eSpecial stands on three pillars: Exhibitor Presentation - Networking - Congress. The mega-topic transformation is the focus.

The pandemic is currently changing and digitalising not only event formats. In addition to its health, economic and social effects, it also highlights the need for a change in the way we eat and live, as well as transformation movements. The focus of the congress of the Biofach 2021 eSpecial is therefore a highly topical issue: transformation and how it can be driven forward even better by the various social movements: Shaping Transformation. Stronger. Together.

Change is necessary

The balance of the planet is now severely disturbed. This can be seen in the climate, soils, water and the diversity of species. But at the moment we can also see that solidarity and values are viable, that established relationships and sustainable systems are proving their worth and are resilient. But the global organic movement, which is based on these values, also needs a future-oriented transformation at all stages of the value chain, the experts agree.

The implementation of the ecological turnaround is not only taking place in the fields, it also requires a new way of thinking with regard to eating habits and consumer behaviour. And, last but not least, a constructive joint effort to shape the change with many of our alliance partners, a transformation at all levels: For the climate, for more biodiversity, for more fairness in the supply chain and for food justice. In 2021 the international organic movement will discuss exactly these topics at the Biofach eSpecial.

Pandemic opens eyes

The German transformation researcher and social psychologist Harald Welzer

says that the pandemic opens the eyes of many consumers. As if through a pair of burning glasses, many suddenly see the connections between the pandemic and the exploitation of the planet - the whole system has been disrupted. This, he says, is leading to an increase in consumer awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health. In some cases, the focus is even on strengthening the immune system as protection against the virus, and many are increasingly turning to organic food.

Amarjit Sahota, international organic market expert and founder of Organic Monitor Market Research, now Ecovia Intelligence in London, speaks of a "coronavirus boost for the global organic industry". From India to Europe to the USA, wholesalers and retailers are experiencing a demand surge of up to 40 percent

compared to the previous year due to the pandemic. Above all, online business is booming so much that Amazon, the owner of the organic giant Whole Foods, had to restrict online organic food purchases in the USA in between to meet the enormous demand, reports Sahota.

Sahota looks back on the organic market development: organic food was first introduced on a large scale in the early 1990s. It took more than 15 years until the worldwide turnover of organic products reached around 50 billion US dollars in 2008. Ten years later (2018) sales exceeded the 100 billion dollar mark. As COVID-19 changes the way we shop and eat, the next leap to $150 billion could occur within the next 5 years, predicts Sahota.

„Das internationale Liefernetzwerk ist unter Druck geraten .“
Amarjit Sahota, internationaler Bio-Marktexperte

Supply chains interrupted

However, it is also a fact that "the international supply network has come under pressure," Sahota says. He explains the connection: Many of the raw materials used by European and North American organic food companies come from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The national lockdowns and uncertainties in dealing with the pandemic have disrupted many supply chains for the time being. Due to the corona crisis, organic smallholders were no longer able to bring in their harvests, or only to a limited extent, or to export them. They are once again the victims of a crisis. Take India, for example: the country is a source of organic tea, herbs, spices and other important organic raw materials. At the same time, the subcontinent is one of the most severely affected by Covid-19 worldwide.

Climate protection top priority

Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, organic farmer and long-standing chairman of the German umbrella organisation Bund Ökologischer Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW) and national sponsor of Biofach, explains that a decisive factor for progress in the organic changeover is to link the various transformation movements in such a way that they are creative and mutually reinforcing in the same direction. Climate protection is one of the measures with the highest priority: "Land use has a considerable influence on our climate impact as an economy. This shows all the more how important it is to actively support the climate protection movement and take all possible measures to reduceCO2 emissions," said Dr. Löwenstein.