The sector includes producers of organic food in general, organic wine, organic meat, organic dairy products, organic drinks and organic dietary supplements, as well as the organic inspection bodies. The guiding principle of organic production is supreme food quality through careful use of agriculture, raw materials and energy. The goals of organic cultivation are closed material cycles that regulate themselves without human intervention.
Organic farming has a particularly long tradition in Austria. The first organic farmer was officially registered as early as the 1920s. That the organic concept has developed so well in Austria is down to its topographical circumstances. 70% of the country is mountainous and thus permits little scope for intensive agricultural structures. It favours organic farming.
The world's leading trade fair in the sector, the Biofach in Nuremberg, which is held every year with 2,300 exhibitors and just under 50,000 trade visitors from 130 countries, is important for the companies in the sector.
In the 1990s, Austria was gripped by a major wave of changeover to organic when a domestic supermarket chain stocked organic food on its shelves in all of its stores. It was thus possible to align supply and demand well to one another and the organic farmers had secure, long-term outlets for their products. The ambitious experiment was justified by its success: just a few years later, every retail chain has its own organic brand in its range. Austrian organic products are pioneers in the private label sector. In addition to the organic effect, regional origin, animal welfare and environmental protection are also central marketing and sales arguments.
Quality, innovative spirit and diversity
In an international comparison, Austrian organic products are predominantly characterised by their outstanding quality. But also the product diversity and the innovative spirit of the Austrian SMEs stand out. The Austrian sector does not produce mass goods; it produces internationally popular specialities.
Austrian organic producers are successful with cheese and dairy products, meat and sausage produce, juices, bread and baked goods, pumpkin seed products, chocolate, cereals and dietary supplements.
In Austria, there are companies with a long tradition and organic pioneers that have, for instance, offered organic tea, blends of spices, and chocolate since the 1980s, as well as newcomers who are positioning themselves with products such as organic dietary supplements or sugar-free organic tea drinks.
Despite their small-scale structures, Austrian companies in the organic sector are asserting themselves on global markets because they have innovative ideas and distinguish themselves through further developments and excellent customer support. As small enterprises, they can meet special customer requirements in small series in a flexible manner.Two examples of the innovative spirit of Austrian companies that were also presented at the Biofach in Nuremberg: dietary supplements, natural and in organic quality, and an apiary whose bees collect nectar at locations guaranteed to be uncontaminated, such as nature reserves.