The Biocoop store overlooking the small tree-lined square of General-Beuret, in the 15e arrondissement of Paris, still wishes a “beautiful & organic summer to all”, written in chalk on the slate of its storefront. Curtain down today, this brand opened in 2015 did not last the summer. The Paris Commercial Court pronounced, on August 23, the opening of the judicial liquidation, following a suspension of payments, on August 4. A few hundred meters away, in rue Saint-Lambert, is a Bio c’Bon (Carrefour group) which offers its entirely empty entrails to the eyes of the street.
Symbol of the collapse of organic stores, Les Nouveaux Robinson, one of the pioneers in the Paris region, which opened the first organic store in Ile-de-France, in Montreuil, in 1993, will disappear. Monday, October 17, at a general meeting, the members validated the early dissolution of the cooperative and the future sale of all the assets, including the warehouse and the eight remaining stores, after the sale, at the end of June, of nine points of sale to a Naturalia franchisee (Casino group), and the closure of two others in 2021 and 2022.
Already challenged by traditional mass distribution, the rise of products labeled “high environmental quality” or “pesticide-free” – whose specifications are much less restrictive than organic – and short circuit shops, the organic market is recording a sharp brake because of inflation. “The 15% growth every year is over”recognizes Sylvain Ferry, general manager of Biocoop, which claims to be the leader in the sector, with 780 stores.
Research firm NielsenIQ observes a “unprecedented slowdown”, with a 5.3% drop in sales in the major general retailers. The weight of organic in value fell from 5.1% in 2020 to 4.9% in 2022. It was 2.1% in 2014. Specialized sales channels suffered more, with a fall of 16% on average , according to the analysis firm Biotopia. At Biocoop, the downturn is understood “between 7% and 8% in value since January”reports Mr. Ferry.
“The organic market is complicated this year, recognizes Allon Zeitoun, CEO of Naturalia. A year and a half ago, everyone said that after Covid-19 the consumer was going to be more engaged. The market deceleration took us all by surprise. » In these times of high inflation – 5.6% according to INSEE in September, but 9.9% for the food item alone – the price proves to be a deterrent. “An organic basket can cost 45% more than a conventional basket”points out NielsenIQ, including a survey published in early October shows that 54% of French people find that these products are too expensive compared to the benefits they bring.
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