The region has an 18 percent share, or 6.8 million hectares, of global organic farmland. More than $1 billion worth of organic products is exported from Latin American every year.
Despite the region’s large production of sustainable foods, local markets are small in size, according to Organic Monitor. The region is also a major source of fair trade products, including cocoa, sugar and coffee, yet there is no domestic market. For instance, most Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified products grown in South America are exported to Europe and North America.
Product portfolio and changing consumer behavior are the primary obstacles to developing a domestic market for organic foods.
Product portfolio is a key ingredient to help local markets develop, says Organic Monitor. Most Latin American producers focus on the export markets. Without local products, retailers have had to import expensive finished items such as organic baby food and beverages from the US. Native Products is one of the few Latin American sustainable foods companies to build a strong domestic market presence, Organic Monitor says.
Changing consumer behavior is a bigger obstacle to create a domestic market for sustainable foods, Organic Monitor said. Many Latin American consumers view fair trade, organic and eco-labeled products as luxuries.
The challenges associated with sustainable food production and local consumption will be a central focus of the Sustainable Foods Summit scheduled for March 27 to March 28 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Native Products, Unilever, Sodexo, Organics Brasil, Walmart, Pao de Acucar, IBD Certification, Marine Stewardship Council and Fairtrade International are some of the leading organizations that will be in attendance.