The growth in demand for organic sales levelled off in 2021. A comparison with the peak year 2020 shows a decline in some product categories, but there are also clear upward trends in products such as juices and kissels, condiments, brewing products and baby food. A particular challenge to the development of organic sales was the strong growth in sales of convenience food, as there are hardly any organic alternatives in this product group.
Organic products sold for €407 million in retail trade in Finland in 2021, estimates Finnish Organic Food Association Pro Luomu. Sales fell by 0.5% from the previous year, but have increased by 9.3% since 2019, the year before the pandemic.
Organic sales developed less than total sales in the grocery trade, as food sales in the grocery trade grew by 2.3% in 2021 (Source: Finnish Grocery Trade Association). Organic products accounted for around 2.5% of total sales in the grocery trade.
From the baking boom to convenience food
The sales figures for organic in 2021 are comparable to the first year of the corona pandemic, a record year for sales in the grocery trade, due to which the growth of organic was low or even declined in many product categories.
"In 2020, the baking boom was clearly reflected in sales of organic flour, which grew by almost 30%, while last year flour sales fell by around 10%. From this, it could be concluded that the greatest enthusiasm for baking has subsided and in 2021 people may have already moved more outside the home,” says Aura Lamminparras, Executive Director of Pro Luomu.
Organic sales also fell sharply in the categories of milk and other liquid dairy products, vegetable oils and frozen foods. There was a clear increase compared to the previous year in juices and kissels, condiments, brewing products and baby food.
The development of organic sales in different product categories reflects the development of food sales as a whole. According to food sales statistics published by the Finnish Grocery Trade Association, sales of staple foods such as milk, meat, flour and frozen vegetables decreased last year, while sales of convenience food increased very strongly.
"Last year, half of the increase in total food sales came from an increase in convenience food sales. Organic products are very marginal in the convenience food category, so organic has not been able to benefit from this shift in consumption from raw materials to finished products. It would be really important to have more organic options in the growing convenience food category in the future,” says Aura Lamminparras.
More organic products are needed to increase demand
However, more and more consumers are interested in responsible food choices and would like to increase their use of organic products. According to the Organic Consumer Barometer published by Pro Luomu in autumn 2021, 83% of active consumers who buy organic food every week intend to increase their consumption of organic food in the future, compared to 53% of the population as a whole.
Harri Hovi, Chairman of Pro Luomu and Kesko's Head of Grocery Trade and Sustainability, hopes that new products will be launched on the market to increase the demand for organic products.
"With the corona pandemic, the popularity of Finnish products has been at an all-time high. I believe that there is also a demand for organic food, a good example being organic eggs and organic baby food, which already have a stable user base. Even in the organic sector, you need to be able to catch emerging trends and develop new products in growing product groups in line with customer interest," says Harri Hovi.
Aura Lamminparras, Executive Director of Pro Luomu, agrees.
“As the demands for responsibility in food choices grow, organic is a clear solution that makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable choices. But to increase demand, we need more good organic products and effective communication about the benefits of organic production," says Lamminparras.
Largest market shares
(organic in terms of product categories value in 2021)
- Baby food 24 %
- Eggs 20 %
- Vegetable oils 17 %
- Flakes and groats 13 %
- Juices and kissels 9 %
- Flour 9 %
- Coffee, tea and cocoa 8 %
- Fruit 7 %
- Vegetables 5 %
- Milk 4 %
Most popular organic products TOP 5 (in grocery shops)
- Minced meat
Source: Pro Luomu