"We need to get away from the idealistic supporter of organic food, who eats limp carrots and drinks sour wine. Organic food and gastronomy are two concepts that must come closer together. If we are to succeed, organic food must be associated with good flavour and quality," said Thor Øivind Jensen.
Tore Stubberud, organic farmer and author, supported Jensen's ideas and said it was time to introduce a new term: gastro-organic.
Thor Øivind Jensen, political scientist at the University of Bergen, gave participants an introduction to the Slow Food movement. In his opinion, Slow Food is a concept that has great consequences for government policy and our way of thinking. The concept was introduced by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 as a counter to the idea of fast food. Since then the movement has expanded massively and there are now local associations in 132 countries and a membership of 100,000 people. The idea of using local food is essential to the Slow Food movement. So is the farmers' market, which has come about as a consequence of the desire for closer contact between producer and consumer.
The best - pure and simple
Eco-warrior Kurt Oddekalv was also present at this year's event.
"Don't bother with dumb arguments about why we should buy organic," he thundered in his typical style. "Organic food tastes better than other food. Organic food is natural and the only correct choice. These are the arguments you must use. You aren't good enough at explaining that," scolded Oddekalv to an audience consisting of authorities, industry bodies, companies and producers. "I am a realist idealist and I think holistically. I make my own food. Some things I have to buy. I buy organic, naturally," continued Oddekalv, while showing pictures of food from his refrigerator, of the larder, the woodshed and the illegally built outside toilet at his cabin.
The situation in Britain
James Twine of the Soil Association, which is the British sister organisation of Debio and Oikos, gave participants an introduction to the current position of organic food in Britain.
"Recession! As soon as that word was used in Britain there was panic. Now, a year later, we can say that there was no reason to panic. The organic food industry has had it a bit tougher than before over the past year; sales of organic food have declined by about 13%," explained Twine. The Soil Association works with the marketing of organic food and certifies more than 80% of organic foods in Britain.
With the exception of the past year, the organic food market in Britain has been steadily growing year by year. 73% of organic products are sold through the big supermarkets. There has also been a big increase in farmers' markets.
"Organic food has a future in Britain. Brand building is the key. The best way to increase sales is to market the history of the organic products. Price is important, but organic products don't always need to be so similar to other goods in price. In the case of pork and chicken, for example, we have good arguments to explain why the price is higher. The market can tolerate this diversity," concluded Twine.
Full focus at Nortura
Nortura has increased the number of organic products from 23 to 40 during the past year, thereby contributing to a real lift for organic sales.
"First, we had to check out the customers and their motives for buying. We understood that if we were to succeed with this initiative we had to increase the purchasing base. It was therefore just as important for us to look at what motives people had for NOT buying organic. The two main arguments for not buying were price and that there were no organic products in the shop. The conclusion was that we must balance prices every day and at the same time display the products," explained Kjersti Sørby. The result of this was that they created a separate brand. They already had Norgården eggs, so they thought it natural to build on this brand.
"Design is extremely important. We had to become different - and we have," explained Sørby, who recently received first prize for best design at the Pentawards - the most prestigious international competition for packaging design. The award was presented on 2 October 2009 at the Brussels Design Forum. This is the first time a Norwegian packaging design has taken the top award in this competition.