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In ten years the whole of Europe will be eating organic”

With 30 years of experience in the organic sector, Yvonne Legros is certain: it won’t be long before the European consumer solely demands organic fruits and vegetables. “Something we’ve always wanted is about to become reality.” 

Yvonne founded the French wholesaler Legros Bio in 2003. Starting off small, she now has a flourishing company with an annual revenue of €20 million. “I didn’t foresee us getting this big. The demand in organic products has gone through the roof in the past 5 years, especially on the French market. The demand used to originate with people applying a fully organic lifestyle, but these days everybody asks for it.”

According to Yvonne, the market created the demand in organic products itself: “The supply has increased enormously in the past years. In Spain for instance, both producers and acreage increased. The many products released on the market this way required a good marketing plan, and more stores to sell organic products.”

Almost every French supermarket has an extensive organic assortment these days; something really catching on with the consumers, who keep on asking for more. Yvonne: “The whole of Europe is experiencing the same development. Half of our products are meant for export, mainly to Germany, where we see demand increasing as well.”

Yvonne doesn’t dwell long on the question whether organic fruits and vegetables will become more important than conventional ones on a European level. “Every decade there’s a step in the right direction. We’re closer than ever. I think consumers, within ten to fifteen years, will only ask for organic fruits and vegetables which don’t contain pesticide residues.”

Competition among pesticide-free products
Last year, the label ‘Zéro résidu de pesticides'  was launched in France: a label for pesticide-free products. It presents itself as a middle ground between conventional and organic, and it’s found its way to supermarkets by now. Yvonne doesn’t think this label poses a short term threat to the organic assortment: “It’s all just a case of good marketing really.”

“There’s not much marketing present yet for the label ‘Zéro résidu de pesticides’, therefore it isn’t well known among consumers yet. Organic products on the other hand get quite the publicity; hence the customer knows the product and actively seeks it out. The situation could very well change within one or two years, but for now the pesticide-free label doesn’t pose a single threat yet.”

Yvonne’s 25 employees are mainly women. “It’s a conscious decision: I pick my employees carefully, and I rather enjoy working with women, although an increasing amount of men is joining our team as well.”

Company Daycare
Yvonne does everything she can to make it as comfortable as possible for her team, with a company daycare, and even courses on meditation during work hours. “Working in the fruits and vegetables sector and stress go hand in hand. Everyone has multiple phones and computers to keep an eye on through the day, and all of the information has to be processed simultaneously. This stress isn’t exactly beneficial to their private lives, therefore, we do our utmost best to compensate for it.”


Author: Elselien Treure 
FreshPlaza.com


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