Why organic is more expensive

Why organic is more expensive

Across Europe, Germans spend the least money on food. Although they are interested in animals being kept in an appropriate manner and in protecting the environment, they   still do not want to pay more for organically produced food . They are actually not cheap either. According to Eco-Test magazine, the surcharge is between 40 and 50 percent. With  meat  , things can get even more expensive, because the surcharge can be up to 100 percent. The question now arises as to why organic products are so much more expensive than conventionally manufactured ones. Or rather why conventional food can be produced so cheaply.

Falling prices weaken small businesses

The consumer is happy: For decades, the rise in food prices has been below that of the general cost of living. Farmers are left behind: Producer prices have fallen, while expenditure on agricultural inputs has remained the same.

As a result, the decline in yield has led to an enormous pressure to rationalize (e.g. mechanization, chemicalization of production). This has cost many a small or medium-sized farm its existence. According to a survey by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry, more than a million farms have had to close their doors in Germany alone over the past 50 years. Under these circumstances, only large companies could continue to exist.

Compulsion to cheap production

The food industry is also under great pressure. Because it is forced to buy agricultural raw materials as cheaply as possible – in Europe and worldwide, because in Southern and Eastern Europe as well as in the developing countries, production can be done more cheaply due to low wages. There is a strong concentration of suppliers in the food trade, which has led to ruinous competition and pushed prices down further.

This compulsion to produce, process and market cheaply has also paved the way for the food scandals we have been hearing about for years. Hormones and  antibiotics  in veal, swine fever, BSE,  salmonella  in poultry, glycol in wine are just a few examples among many.

Ecological consequences cause costs

It should also be considered that the ecological and social consequential costs of cheap production (e.g. through the treatment of drinking water to remove pesticides and nitrates and the high consumption of energy and raw materials) are partly borne by taxpayers.

Ultimately, the groceries bought so cheaply are more expensive than we thought. We just don’t pay them directly at the supermarket checkout.

Organic pays off in the long run

Organic farming produces food in harmony with people, animals and the environment. It therefore requires significantly less fertilizer and energy than conventional agriculture. However, since organic farmers do not follow the rationalization, they have to do more work in crop production and animal husbandry. In doing so, of course, they generate lower incomes.

That is why organic products naturally cannot be as cheap as conventionally produced food. On the other hand: If new sales outlets (such as organic supermarkets) were established more strongly alongside the classic marketing channels (e.g. organic food shops, health food stores) and the range in conventional food retail was increased, more people would buy organic products. Increased sales volumes would naturally cause prices to fall.

interviewed the consumer

Consumer surveys show that the higher prices are actually a barrier to purchase. Other reasons are the lack of availability and the lack of awareness of the products. This means they are not offered or recognized where customers like to shop. Some customers are also confused by too many brands or labels and do not dare to recognize “real” organic products.

It should also not be underestimated that many Germans consider cheap food to be a sign of progress and a high standard of living. And they enjoy a certain “bargain mentality”: What is saved on groceries can be spent elsewhere (e.g. on vacation).

However, using more food from organic farming does not seem to be a question of income, but rather an appreciation of one’s own health, the environment and the social aspects of the food system.

“Organic households” don’t spend more money

It is interesting that “organic households” do not spend as much money on food overall as households that buy conventionally produced food. This is mainly due to the fact that “organic buyers” consume less meat and sweets overall and the proportion of alcoholic beverages and luxury foods is lower.

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