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Organic Food Gain Steams in Germany


"Bio Food" Goes Big in Germany

Organic food has long been popular among Germans, but while such products
have been sold in small stores so far, supermarket-style venues focusing
exclusively on so-called "bio food" are becoming more prevalent.

Germany is a country of discount supermarkets: Chains such as Aldi, Lidl or
Plus attract customers who want as much as possible for as little as
possible. But more and more discerning customers are turning away from such
thinking and instead are looking for organic quality.

Stores with names such as "Basic," "Eat organic" and "Supernatural" are
sprouting up across Germany to fill the niche. While at first sight they
look like regular supermarkets, they're actually quite different: The
design's a little more tasteful, shop assistants seem friendlier and the
tomatoes appear a touch juicier than in other places.

Such "bio supermarkets" now exist in most German cities and represent the
next generation of organic food stores, according to Christoph Spahn, a
consultant for health food stores. Compared to old-fashioned organic food
stores, bio supermarkets have much larger self-service sections, he said,
adding that people who work there still know what they're talking about.

"I can still ask them about something and they'll be able to give me expert
advice," he said.

Dried-up carrots vs. hedonism

For years, many Germans associated dried-up carrots and canvas shopping bags
with organic food stores. Most people avoided such shops because they were
considered more expensive than the regular supermarkets. They derided
organic food lovers, who bought their tofu and musli in health food stores.

That's changed, according to Spahn.

"There's much fewer classic organic food buyers than before," he said,
adding that stores have also shifted from an orientation towards families to
a more hedonistic audience.

Just like their customers, health food stores have also changed appearance.
The stores are larger now and more of them -- more than 200 now exist
nation-wide. They lure customers by saying that they sell products for less
than other organic stores and seem to be successful with this strategy.

Growing trend

According to Spahn, about one fifth of revenues in the organic food sector
now comes from "bio supermarkets," and the consultant said he believes this
trend will continue. Spahn expects revenues from organic supermarkets to
double in the coming years.

Others said health food supermarkets are also more in line with lifestyle
trends. Andrew Murphy, the chief executive of Supernatural, a chain that
runs five organic supermarkets in Germany's Rhineland region, said the
demand remains greater than what's on offer.

"People are sick and tired of eating products that taste like baby food," he

"During the last couple of years, people have been told that 'stinginess is
cool,'" Murphy added, referring to the popular advertising slogan of an
German electronics supermarket. "For us it's good tasting products that are

Author DW staff (win) © Deutsche Welle