French agricultural co-operatives pledge to increase organic products

Trade body Coop de France announced five key actions to boost production, including the development of sustainable partnerships

Agricultural co-ops in France have signed a declaration supporting organic farming.

The trade body for the sector, Coop de France, marked the Week of Agricultural Co-operation and Organic Farming by pledging five key actions to boost organic food production.

The declaration sets out three key objectives – developing organic farming in line with its principles, creating high-performing and sustainable organic channels and focusing on produce traceability and valorisation.

Through the declaration, the co-ops pledge to implement five actions – implement demanding and ambitious changes, reinforce the role of farmer co-operators, conduct research on the competitiveness and value creation of organic products within every branch, and develop sustainable partnerships and exchange information with other actors to create favourable synergies.

Related: New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra pledges cleaner waterways

The sector includes 2,600 co-operatives and 11,545 agricultural purchasing co-ops with a total turnover of €85.9bn. Co-ops account for around 40% of French agricultural turnover, while employing 165,000 people. Around three quarters of French farmers are members of at least one co-operative.

Over 550 co-operatives are already involved in organic production. Furthermore, agricultural co-operatives account for 90% of organic pork meat, 78% of organic cereals, 48% of organic eggs, 43% of beef, 36% of milk, 25% of fruit and veg and 20% of wines.

“Our numbers speak for themselves, we can be proud of our involvement in the development of bio channels,” said Jérôme Caillé, vice president of the organic commission of Coop de France. “It is now necessary to take this ambition further and reinforce our actions through the five commitments agreed.”

As French consumers change their preferences, the market share of organic products continues to increase, with total sales reaching €7.1bn in 2016, a 20% increase from 2015. This surge is reflected not only in home consumption, but also in catering.

According to Agence Bio, seven out of ten French consume organic produce at least once a month while 15% of the population consumed organic produce on a daily basis in 2016.

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