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Emergency in the organic, bulk and local sectors

Emergency in the organic, bulk and local sectors

BiowallonieConsomAction, the FDSS, the Collectif 5C, the Cellule Manger Demain and other actors sounded the alarm this week. Indeed, these different entities wish to draw the attention on the difficulties that local, organic, bulk and short circuit channels are currently facing. 


A loss of momentum and a series of crises

These alternative sectors have been expanding for more or less twenty years. There are currently more than 400 stores, including about 40 cooperatives, throughout Wallonia and Brussels.  

Two years ago, the pandemic had given a serious boost to these sectors. Many consumers turned to independent outlets, such as organic stores, bulk stores or cooperative grocery stores in short circuits. 

However, since the last few months, the sales figures of most of them are decreasing. This is confirmed by a study conducted among 96 businesses in the organic and bulk sectors, equivalent to a third of the players in Wallonia and Brussels. The study concerned a wide range of sales outlets: organic stores, bulk grocery stores, farm stores, cooperative stores and sustainable online stores. The results show that:

  • more than 80% of the respondents have seen their turnover decrease between the first half of 2021 and the same half of 2022. 
  • For 12 of the stores surveyed, this decrease is greater than 30%. Only 4 stores report a turnover equivalent to 2021 and 13 of them an increase in turnover.
  • The stores also report a loss of approximately 56% of occasional customers, and half of them also report a loss of regular customers: a fluctuating customer base that is also reflected in the average basket.


The new world does not exist

Belgians adopted a lot of new (good) habits during the health crisis: e-commerce, telecommuting, local, organic, etc... After restrictions were lifted, many were perhaps naively hoping that these new habits would remain. But it is not the case. Roads are again congested, telecommuting is more used but is certainly no longer a panacea, only e-commerce has shown signs of continuity. 

On their side, the organic, local and short circuit sales outlets see themselves going backwards. Especially since the successive crises only put more pressure on the purchasing power of the consumer. Clearly, the sector is in crisis. 


What can be done? The resilience will help the sector prevail

According to the different associations, the organic, local and bulk sectors need to increase their visibility to consumers. Indeed, the businesses of these sectors are still too often perceived as too expensive, inaccessible, complicated, unattractive, or having a too limited offer. 

For this reason, BiowallonieConsomAction, the FDSS, the Collectif 5C, the Cellule Manger Demain and other actors have decided to join forces to carry out concrete actions in the field aiming at improving the accessibility to organic, bulk and short circuit food for all. In the coming months, you will see different actions on the field such as: The open doors of the ConsomAction from November 17 to 26, 2022, a price observatory (first publication planned for mid-November), a day of networking between organic professionals aimed at boosting organic consumption, or awareness-raising actions towards different audiences ...


Clearly, the difficulties and consequences of the crises are being felt. However, the different actors are determined to try to improve their image and their competitiveness. To be continued. 










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