Great potential in expanding the organic food market among urban consumers in Sri Lanka
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people.
Organic sector is principally located in developed countries, with the European Union and the United States being the main markets.
The demand has elevated for organic foods from the consumers who are well-aware about critical health impacts due to the over-use of chemicals. In developing countries, the organic segment of the market is small and a niche in the total food sector; but, it is expanding quickly.
According to a survey, conducted by Dr. Pushpa Malkanthi, Senior Lecturer in Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, has found that since there is a high level of education for most consumers in urban cities, awareness on organic food among them is also high. Therefore a great potential exists in expanding the organic food market among urban consumers in Sri Lanka.
The research was conducted to do a situation analysis of markets and evaluate the consumer attitude and purchasing of organic food, using 600 consumers in urban Sri Lanka, covering six main cities, i.e., Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Kandy, Kurunegala, and Ratnapura, by randomly selecting 100 consumers from each city.
Dr. Malkanthi has mentioned that in her research, only few market places were selling only organic food items (a significant number of organic food items were in those market places), while most of other market places had organic zones/sections as separate sections inside the market, along with other non-organic products. According to the results of that consumer survey, most consumers have received information about market places from the internet, then by name boards/Notices displaced by organic food shops or supermarkets. Friends and relatives’ word-of-mouth also plays a significant role in receiving information on markets. However, traditional mass media such as Newspaper, Radio, and Television were not so crucial in this regard.
As she reported in her research, high price of organic products, unavailability of the required organic food and the discontinuous supply of organic food and some products were not adapting prominent marketing strategies such as branding, certification, packaging, and promotional methods are act as the barriers for expanding the organic food culture in Sri Lanka.
It is vital to improve the Organic food market in Sri Lanka, by using some strategies such as, increasing the availability of organic food in market places by shop keepers, making continuous product availability with good-quality at reasonable prices, application of modern market promotional strategies such as the internet (E-marketing) and home delivery by shop keepers, development of tracing systems of organic food items through certification and labelling to enhance the trustworthiness of the organic food value chain, improves the availability of products and market information and certification of organic foods.