EU CONSUMERS DIG HEALTHY FOOD
Researchers say the COVID-19 crisis is pushing EU consumers to shop for higher quality food and health-related products.
A report from Mckinsey suggests that the pandemic is impacting the eating habits and overall consumer lifestyles of Europeans, who are changing their diet to focus more on wellness and sustainability, according to Euronews.
This is being reflected in higher than average sales of organic food products. Spanish organic olive oil producer, María Miró Arias, says her online and private sales have shot up by more than 40% in recent months.
She says her company will likely run out of stock almost four months earlier than expected.
"I think there is more awareness of the local product. People have developed empathy for small shops, and developed an interest in organic produce," says Arias. "They want to take better care of themselves, and they want to eat healthier.”
Sales also went up for Las Pencas, an ecological farm in the south of Spain. “It was almost frightening, how fast it boomed," says farm manager Serafina Donatella Zanca. "I think that people wanted to eat healthier in the middle of what was happening."
Spanish farmers could especially benefit from the rising European demand for healthy food. That's because Spain is one of the EU's main food exporters and has the most land devoted to organic farming in Europe.
The growing enthusiasm for healthy eating is being felt across the industry. According to Joan Mir, Managing Director of one of Spain's largest food cooperatives, ANECOOP, there has been a substantial increase in products perceived as foods that improve the immune system, such as citrus fruits, and certain vegetables.
Exports of fresh fruits and vegetables from Spain were up by 3.6% in volume during March, compared to the previous month, according to customs data from the Spanish Ministry of Economy.
The country also saw an increase of 12% in organic produce consumption during the months of March and April, compared to the same months in 2019, according to Álvaro Barrera, president of Ecovalia, a Spanish professional association of organic food producers.
Barrera sees Spain becoming a central player in an ever greener Europe, "the fact that Spain is leading the organic production in Europe is no coincidence: we have the agronomic conditions to develop it.”
Farm manager Donatella Zanca says organic eggs from her farm have also been in high demand. "It’s clear how people are becoming more conscious and interested in tracing the route from the producer to the table. This is the future, and Spanish people know it.”
But while the going has been good for some organic producers, others have struggled with the impact of the pandemic.
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