Challenges and opportunities Summary of survey which found possible obstacle to the use of organic food in the catering trade.

Norway is trying to get started as a an organic country. The parliament has recently set target to ensure that at least 15% organic food is produced and consumed in the country by 2020. As a result of this decision by the parliament, the prices and availability of organic products have improved.


As of now, there is only 1.45% organic food in stores in the country. Through three different surveys over the past three years, Nofima has asked chefs what is greatest obstacles to increased consumption of organic food. The answers have been stable on the biggest hurdles throughout these years: access of goods and prices of organic products.

Need ecological products tailored to their needs
Our investigations show that the supply of organic products to the food service is characterized by a lack of adaptation to this customer group. Large kitchen, those who make several hundred to over a thousand servings daily, need organic products that are adapted to their everyday lives. They demand more processed products, cut, split, ready to use. For these businesses are not an option “to make more food from scratch.” Especially in the public sector there is no cooking facilities and equipment for this. Some institutions have only “cooking cuisine” food comes completed from a supplier or a central kitchen, and just last «finish» made ​​before serving. Those who have a usable kitchen facilities usually have no budgetary room for staff who can do the job.Products must also be supplied in pack sizes custom kitchen’s volume.


Handling of gaskets in consumer size for making big batches is both time consuming and a waste of resources. Large Customer seals will also lead to lower packaging consumption. Last, but not least – the suppliers must be able to offer a total volume large enough for a steady supply of product, with the exception of seasonal products, for which there are adequate with a large enough volume in the season. Should preferably products also be available throughout the country.

Differences public and private sectors
The public tender rules have previously been characterized as an obstacle to increased purchases of organic products. Difi report from 2012 states that public agencies may require organic products as a consequence of this opportunity to consider the environment when choosing products in tendering regime. This now seems to be well known among those responsible for procurement in the public sector. But our research suggests that there is still a lack of knowledge about how this can best be achieved in the tender documents’ requirements and criteria. The private businesses may choose suppliers more freely, although the larger chains, hotels and catering, have their tenders.


The biggest difference between public and private large households in our surveys, however, was in the objectives and implementation. The private businesses set goals and rationales for targets, they made strategies for implementation, and gladly holistic response for all devices in a group. They chose dedicated managers to plan, implement and follow up the measures and results were in demand upwards in line. In public entities were often chef enthusiast to get started, and that person received approval from superiors to work on the case, most often under the premise that it should not lead to additional costs. Goal percentage organic food or progress on this was rarely demanded up in the system. Many chefs stated that they missed follow-up and support from the business owner. Here there are of course also exceptions, examples of municipalities, councilors and business leaders who get involved.

small food buisness

Marked as driver
Sales of organic food increased by 30% in the grocery trade from 2013 to 2014. The increase in other sales channels, including the catering was of 20%.Organic food is an international trend, and Norway is currently far behind neighboring countries Sweden and Denmark. Organic food as part of the environmental work for “sustainable businesses” is perhaps the driver had the greatest moment. An example is the initiative “Green Hospital”, where health authorities are working in a joint project to achieve certification according to EN ISO 14000 Environmental management systems and organic foods are part of the requirements. Many municipalities want certification by Eco-system, which also has requirements for organic foods. Also Swan label organic food in its list of requirements, and is attractive for hotel and restaurant industry.

organic food in grocery stores

Debio certification for foodservice, gold, silver and bronze marked for respectively 90%, 50% and 15% organic food is also well known in the industry and an attractive target. It is also easily measurable and easy to communicate to users and customers.

Cooperation needed
for many products that are missed by catering vendors say that “if it turns out that the volume is large enough, we can produce this.” While chefs will argue that demand is already very large. It may therefore seem that a better coordination and agreed to request (and book!) Some types of products will document total requested volume to the supplier. This effort is being made ​​for example in Western. Such documentation on volume will presumably also have an impact on the price level.

chefs in kitchen

It is also suggesting that the logistics are a bottleneck. We have not enough research to determine the cause of this. But also logistically is volume a core issue. It costs more per unit to distribute small volumes throughout the country, with regard to both transport and storage. The overall small volume, it may be that the vendor chooses to supply those customers who are closest.


This survey is funded by the Agriculture Directorate.

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