Certified organic products are exported primarily to the EU (especially Austria, Germany and the Netherlands) and the USA. The exporters are cooling processing plants, companies involved in wild collection, and traders, and usually have long-term contracts with foreign buyers.
The domestic market is small and invisible. Only around 1% of certified organic production is sold in the domestic market. A permanent green market for fresh vegetables and fruit exists in Subotica and Novi Sad where organic products also are sold. A house delivery system of organic products exists in Subotica. The green market spaces for fresh organic products have more promotional than economic value. A small amount of processed products (flour, tea, oil, and cream) are sold in health food shops. Certified organic oils are also supplied to supermarkets. There are no uncertified organic products sold in the domestic market.
All studies have shown that the Serbian consumers are ready to buy organic products and to pay more for certified organic food. Consumers choose and pay higher prices for locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat and milk products, and products from specific regions because they know that no chemicals are used. Supermarkets, health food shops, and ethnic and fancy restaurants are permanently searching for organic products, but they are not interested in organizing and introducing farmers to organic production. This is one of the main reasons that the domestic market is not as developed as the export market.
Except for the permanent NGO Terras’ promotional activities such as the Bio festival, there are no promotional activities. It is necessary to increase local stakeholders’ organizational capacities related to the marketing approach.
The role of standards for market development
There are many different labels and brands like natural, eco, bio, etc, some not having any connection with organic production. Only a small number of consumers care, and the authorities have no capacity or desire to prevent fraud. The government is now planning to introduce a common organic label that will be mandatory for all organic products with the goal of introducing consumers to organic products and separating organic from non-organic
products. This initiative would contribute to the development of the domestic market. It is not clear, however, when the implementation of this regulation will start and how it will function in practice. (Author: Senad Hopic)
Organic Case Studies in Serbia
Early Development of Organic in Serbia
Regulatory Framework for Organic in Serbia
Organization, Support, and Lessons Learned in Serbia
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