ORGANIC AS A DIVERSIFICATION INTO SUSTAINABLE APPLE PRODUCTION ON THE SWEDISH MARKET
In a small importing country in an open economy, the competitiveness of domestic production relies heavily on consumer preferences, as is the case with Swedish apple growers. Domestic production is facing increasing competition. Organic apples are imported from Italy, Argentina, New Zealand, France and The Netherlands. While the total market for organic fruit is expanding, less than 8% of the Swedish apple area, and much less of total harvest, is organic. The reasons for this are examined in the paper, the hypothesis being that conversion into organic production might be a way of diversification on a competitive market. The paper describes the structural development and the strategic moves of the apple sector and discusses its potential competitiveness in the global marketplace. The study consists of a review of market research during the past ten years and of expert interviews with actors in the marketing chain. Specific data are collected by interviews with 36 individual growers: 29 growers representing 50% of all organic production, two potential organic growers and a sample of five leading Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) growers. Two-thirds of the organic growers state ideological reasons as the most important reason for choice of production method, while only one out of 29 states financial reasons. Our results show that, rather than using strategies that correspond with the dominant marketing system, the organic growers use alternative, direct sales channels. In marketing, they promote the philosophy of their small company as an added value, but very little added value originates from product development or processing. Sales to supermarkets to reach a larger number of consumers are the key to market expansion, and IFP is thus taking the role of sustainable and environmentally friendly domestic production. Meanwhile, imports of organic apples are increasing. The conclusions from the paper have implications for exporters to Sweden.
Ekelund, L. and Fernqvist, F. (2008). ORGANIC AS A DIVERSIFICATION INTO SUSTAINABLE APPLE PRODUCTION ON THE SWEDISH MARKET. Acta Hortic. 767, 123-130
marketing, apples, product development, strategy, consumer