Telling a product’s unique story

At the beginning of September, about a hundred representatives from the organic food business gathered for an organic workshop.

Central themes for the event included product histories, using social media in marketing, the desire for a free and independent information office, increased public purchasing and assistance with product development.

Applause for the launch

The day began with a mini exhibition and the launch of Coop Änglamark extra light milk.

“Coop is the first supermarket chain in Norway to launch its own milk. This is being doing in partnership with the dairy Rørosmeieriet. This is great news for our customers, stores and members. This milk represents a completely new option that we are sincerely proud of,” says Svein Fanebust, Managing Director of Coop Norge Handel.

Enthusiasm was high among the exhibitors and buyers who took part in the mini exhibition at Culinary Academy. The organic producers reported great interest and enthusiasm.

Berit Norstrøm is general manager for the eight organic farmers in Innherred in Trøndelag who have jointly started up the new company Naturkjøtt to focus on the supermarket sector. She was able to report positive signals and believes they can look forward to an exciting autumn.

Social media could have been made for organic suppliers

“Unlike most of the big producers of conventional foods, we are able to tell the story of every single product. This means that for our purposes social media are a very good channel for promotion,” says Jon-Frede Engdahl, general manager of Kolonihagen

He continues: “Where we used to use 30,000 kroner on an advertisement and got ten new customers, we can now spend five minutes a day on the internet and record a hundred new customers. It’s like night and day,” says Engdahl. “With the internet, we can tailor make campaigns to reach the right market for our organic products.” Kolonihagen operates a subscriber scheme for organic fruit and vegetables, a bakery and a restaurant and has just under 2,000 friends on Facebook.

Would like to see the public sector getting more involved

Debating the challenge of what is needed to double organic consumption in the next 18 months, participants discussed what improvements are needed in logistics, market channels and marketing.

High on the agenda came more public purchasing, an independent information office, a dedicated purchasing organisation and encouraging children and young people to relate to organic products by taking the debate into schools.

Deputy Director Dag Strømsnes of the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) was also able to advise that they wish to see stricter requirements for public sector buyers to use the regulations that already exist for buying organic products. Together with the Norwegian Agricultural Authority (SLF), they have launched the project Økologisk mat i det offentlige (organic food in the public sector). The project will provide practical guidelines for how the public sector can demand organic food, promote standards for competition and provide lists of successful agreements as examples.

“It is not enough for us to tell local authorities that they must buy organic; we must set out specific criteria for how they should act. The public sector should take the lead. It’s as simple as that,” says Strømsnes.

Help with product development

Several organic producers have received help from Nofima Mat, and Camilla Røsjø, Managing Director of the research institute, presented some specific example from Vågen Gård and Holli Mølle, where information from research work has been used to develop good and profitable organic products.

Nofima Mat is also organising Økologifagdagen, a workshop for organic food professionals, on 12 October. Andreas Viestad and others will be throwing down a challenge to focus more on tasty, organic food for children and young people. State Secretary Heidi Sørensen will present the government’s ambitions and goals for the organic sector.

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