The interest in regional products is growing, also and especially in the organic segment. Short transport routes and transparent value chains offer the opportunity for closer ties between producers and consumers.
Health food shops, organic supermarkets and conventional retailers offer a huge range of organically produced food all year round, regardless of season or weather – also thanks to global procurement. Especially in the case of processed products, origins are often difficult to trace.
More and more organic buyers are therefore attaching importance to regional origin. Regionally produced food stands for resource-saving consumption, a weighty argument in times of the climate movement. In addition to short transport distances, there are other arguments in favour of regionality: It contributes to biodiversity as well as to local value creation; guarantees of origin and quality also promise a high degree of food safety.
Farm shop, vegetable subscription and online shop
Especially in times of perceived loss of control in a globalized world, regionality appears as a way to regain control of food production and as an opportunity to reunite consumers and producers.
One way to achieve this is direct marketing, i.e. buying from producers in farm shops or at local weekly markets. Many suppliers deliver fruit and vegetable crates regionally, often in the form of a subscription. Many producers have expanded their radius via an online shop. And a clear definition of the radius within which a product is considered to be regional has not yet been established.
For Querbeet (www.queerbeet.de), the delivery service of the Bioland farm Pappelhof in the Rhine-Main area, for example, regional means everything within 150 kilometres of the company headquarters in Reichelsheim in the Wetterau region.
Regional marketing initiatives
Regional marketing initiatives (RVI) are associations of producers and processors to jointly promote products from a region. Although they can also market regional products supra-regionally or even internationally via the Internet, the focus is usually on the idea “from the region, for the region”.
There are around 500 such initiatives throughout Germany, a large number of which have joined forces in the Federal Association of the Regional Movement (Bundesverband der Regionalbewegung) (www.regionalbewegung.de). Apart from pure organic RVIs such as Tagwerk in the Erding-Freising-Landshut region (www.tagwerk.net), most initiatives market both organic and conventional food.
The customer as an employee of the farm
A close relationship between producer and consumer, not only at the point of sale, but already at the point of production, is established by community-based agriculture. Customers participate in production themselves by investing in the farm, for example in the form of an annual contribution. In this way, they assume part of the production risk and in return are supplied with organically produced fruit, vegetables, milk and eggs throughout the year, depending on the orientation of the farm.
As shareholders, consumers strongly identify with the farm and its products. Some models provide for them to actively help with the harvest at times. In Germany, community-based agriculture is still a niche topic that is usually only found in the exurbs of the big cities – unlike in France, for example, which is a pioneer in Europe for so-called solidarity-based agricultural initiatives.