Across Europe, the Germans spend the least on food. Although they are interested in ensuring that animals are kept in an appropriate manner and the environment is protected, they still do not want to pay for organic food. They are not cheap either. According to the magazine Öko-Test, the surcharge is between 40 and 50 percent. For meat, the matter can be even more expensive, because the surcharge can be up to 100 percent. Now the question arises why eco-products are so much more expensive than the conventionally produced ones. Or rather, why conventional food can be produced so cheaply.
Price erosion weakens small businesses
The consumer is pleased: For decades, the rise in food prices has been below the general cost of living. Farmers are in the wrong: Producer prices have fallen, while farm inputs have remained at the same level.
As a result, the decline in revenue has led to a huge rationalization constraint (for example, mechanization, production chemistry). Many small or medium farms have cost the existence. According to a survey by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry, more than one million farms in the last 50 years had to close their doors in Germany alone. Under these circumstances, only large farms could continue to exist.
Compulsion to cheap production
The food industry is also under great pressure. Because it is forced to buy agricultural raw materials as cheaply as possible - in Europe and worldwide, because in southern and eastern Europe and in the developing countries can be produced cheaper because of lower wages. In the food trade there is a strong concentration of suppliers, which has led to ruinous competition and has pushed prices down.
This compulsion for cheap production, processing and marketing has also given birth to the food scandals that we have been hearing about for years. Hormones and antibiotics in veal, swine fever, BSE, salmonella in poultry meat, glycol in wine are just a few examples among many.
Ecological consequences cause costs
It should also be borne in mind that the environmental and social costs associated with cheap production (for example, drinking water treatment to remove crops and nitrates and high energy and raw material consumption) are partly borne by taxpayers.
Ultimately, the so cheap bought food so more expensive than we suspected. We just do not pay them directly at the cash desk of the supermarket.
Bio pays off in the long term
Organic farming produces food in harmony with humans, animals and the environment. It therefore requires significantly less fertilizer and energy than conventional agriculture. However, as biowirts do not join the rationalization, they must provide a higher workload in crop production and animal husbandry. Of course, they earn less income.
Therefore, organic products may not be as cheap as conventionally produced foods. On the other hand, if new sales outlets (such as organic supermarkets) were established even more in addition to the traditional marketing channels (eg health food stores, health food stores) and the supply in the conventional food trade increased, more people would buy organic products. Increased sales volumes would naturally lower prices.
Asked the consumer
Consumer surveys show that higher prices are indeed a barrier to buying. Other reasons include the lack of availability and the lack of awareness of the products. This means that they are not offered or recognized where customers like to shop. Some customers are also confused by too many brands or labels and do not dare to recognize "real" organic products.
It should not be underestimated that many Germans consider cheap food a sign of progress and a high standard of living. And they enjoy a certain "bargain mentality": what is saved about food, can be spent elsewhere (for example, vacation) again.
However, using more organic food does not seem to be a matter of income but comes from appreciation of one's own health, the environment and the social aspects of the food system.
"Organic households" do not spend more money
Interestingly enough, organic households do not spend as much on food as households buying conventionally produced food. This is mainly due to the fact that "less than" meat and sweets are consumed by "organic buyers" and that the share of alcoholic beverages and stimulants is lower.