Bonn. Producers and consumers met at the Base Camp on Monday for the Biocatering Trade Fair. NRW Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser speaks of a booming industry. Bonn receives an award.
Already in its second year, the “Bio-Gastronomy Trade Fair” at the Base Camp provided organic producers on Monday with the opportunity to network and to establish contacts within gastronomy and catering. The Bonn initiative "Ernährungsrat" (Nutrition Council), which is in the process of being set up and which launched the first trade fair a year ago, is creating a platform to develop a sustainable nutrition system for Bonn and the surrounding area together with participants from the general public, administration, business and politics.
The visit by Ursula Heinen-Esser, Minister for the Environment, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, who welcomed the fair participants, demonstrated that the Bonn initiative is now being accepted politically. Together with Mayor Reinhard Limbach, District Mayor Brigitta Poppe-Reiners and the spokesperson of the Biocities Network, Peter Pluschke, she presented the City of Bonn with the certificate of accession to the Biocities Network.
"The organic sector is booming," explained the Minister. The total turnover of organic food has increased by 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, to eleven billion euros, two billion euros of which is generated in NRW. "Many people want not only organic, but also regionally produced food," the NRW Minister of Agriculture explained. The Cologne-Bonn area in particular provides large areas for production, so that "organic" and "regional" can be well integrated.
In contrast, Dorle Gothe from the board of Regionalwert AG and founding member of the Bonn Nutrition Council initiative, explained that the extent of land use for organic production was still extremely low: "In the Rhineland, we only cultivate about one percent of arable land organically, which is really very, very little. This puts us at the bottom of the league". Although she confirmed that the organic sector as a whole was experiencing growth, the boom for regional products was limited. "The structures are simply still missing here," stated Gothe. This is why people’s involvement in the Bio-Gastro trade fair is important, to bring producers and consumers together.
Time is scarce in gastronomy and communal catering and finding small and regional suppliers often costs purchasers too much time and effort. However, at the Bio-Gastro trade fair, intense discussions can be conducted and cooperations initiated. "It is really interesting for us to discover how we can reach the restauranteurs and caterers in the region," said Christian Barthen from Biohof Bursch in Bornheim.
Together with 16 other producers, he took part in "speed dating" with potential customers at the fair. Even though the organic farmer is already regularly represented at 16 weekly markets with more than 60 products from Demeter cultivation, he lacks the know-how to supply his products directly to large-scale consumers. Barthen saw no reason why organic products should not be generally more expensive than conventionally produced agricultural products.
Completely the opposite opinion is held by Andreas Koplin, a master baker with a catering company in Godesberg, who has been certified organic for one year. Apart from extra work, little has changed. "The end consumer does not accept the higher prices," is his experience. Quality is only relevant at weekends, when you treat yourself to something. His bread rolls cost 50 cents and he has no chance to compete against the discounter who charges 13 cents. "I can only remain organic because I still work conventionally."
Original article: Stefan Hermes
Translation: John Chandler