The world’s largest trade fair devoted solely to organic food – BIOFACH – is taking place this week in Nuremberg, Germany.

Seven Irish organic producers are exhibiting at the Ireland stand, which is hosted by Bord Bia.

One of those businesses is organic beef supplier, The Good Herdsmen. Its managing director, John Purcell, noted the importance of events like to this in securing customers in key export markets.

“We’ve been coming here for the last 15 or 16 years now, and every year we have secured a customer out of the place.

“The German market is the market to be involved in in Europe. 12% of their grocery purchases are organic, so it’s definitely the market to be in,” Purcell told Agriland at BIOFACH.

He added: “We have a strong presence in both manufacturing and retail in Germany, and traditionally Germany has been a good market for Ireland anyway in conventional terms, so we have lots of routes to market established.”

Fruit and vegetables usually account for a larger proportion of the organic market than meat. However, Purcell noted that German consumers pay for quality, which provides an opportunity for organically produced beef.

According to The Good Herdsmen managing director, the business has seen tangible growth in the German market.

The company has a presence in leading German organic retailers – in a country where organic-only retailers are fairly commonplace.

However, with organic food volumes set to grow in line with EU aims to increase the amount of land under organic farming – aims which will be met and probably exceeded by domestic German production – Purcell highlighted the need to “hitch their wagon” to the bigger mainstream retailers.

“We have the volume to do that, so [those retailers] are on our radar at the moment,” he said.

Purcell noted that the market demands – and types of demands – for organics is different depending on which country you go to.

So while German consumers are focused on quality, consumers elsewhere on the continent would be focused on value, while others would look to buy from local producers.

“Because the market is growing here in Germany, we will enjoy that. We have routes to market established through the conventional trade in the last 30 years.

“It’s a matter of following those routes to market and getting in there with the retail packed product with all the USPs [unique selling points] that we have: Irish; organic; grass fed; and under 36 months.

“We have all those USPs with sustainable packaging, which is key,” Purcell explained.