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NEW GREEN PRODUCTS FEATURED
AT GERMAN SHOW

Now in its seventh year, the Bio Fach continues to grow in popularity and significance as an indicator of the health of the organic food and ecological products industries.

As green businesses become more prosperous, the annual Bio Fach - Germany's biggest ecologically sound consumer goods trade fair - gets busierand bigger. Held in Frankfurt -from February 27 through March 2, over 1,200 exhibitors filled two and half floors of thehuge Frankfurt Messe, approximately 20 percent more booths thanin 1996. Dispelling the notion thatthis is solely a German event, almost half (46 percent) of the exhibitors were from Europe or other parts of theworld. There were 21,960 visitors tothe show, up from 18,090 last year and16,300 in 1995.

As noted in a previous report, ("Materials Are the Message for European Green Products," March/April 1995),the products at Bio Fach seemed mostly to be coming from a craft tradition. An environmentally elegant,timeless quality was apparent, regardless of whether they were madeby hand or machine. Therewere few "industrial" products and very little plastic. Many ofthe producers had very smallcompanies, and it seemed mostwere networked with producerassociations that have their own regulations meeting or exceeding the European Union's(EU) product stewards hip and/or organic standards.

When the trade fair startedin 1990, food retailers were the primary target audience. While organicfood remains a significant componentof the show, the number of naturalproducts exhibitors has continued toincrease and, in 1997, these companies made up over 40 percent of the booths. Most of the materials used inproducts were from renewable sources. Polar fleece made from recycled plastic soda bottles, for instance,was not allowed,only recycled naturalmaterials. This year,there were fewer packaging suppliers,food preparation tools and building materials on view,but more gift andluxury items, especially chocolate.

The market for organic food has moved remarkably in thelast year, according to Hagen Sunder ofSunder & Rottner,Bio Fach's organizers."Large multiple chains and department stores in Europehave taken up Biofood products, partlyunder their own label.A corresponding decrease in turnoverdreaded by independent green shops notonly failed to occur,but rather an increasewas noticed. The conventional market meanwhile suffered adecline."

He attributes this success mainly to"the untiring lonefighters of the environmentally concerned pressure groups who, through their actions and information campaigns "have provoked a reaction from science and industry." Sunder also sees reason for optimism with regard to markets for organic food, noting that consumers appear to be recognizing albeitgradually - "that more resources must be committed in order to supply responsible products for humankind and the environment. The outlook,especially for the products of organiccultivation are extremely favorable,"in his opinion, and he adds that "theacceptance of higher prices for foodproducts is evidence of the possibilities for further expansion of sales andmarketing." The most prevalentAmerican product in the cornucopiaof food booths appeared to be chips,especially tortilla chips, though several others were certainly in evidence.

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