Green demand needs boost from local supply

Romanian retailers are seeing a rising demand for eco-products, but local farmers lack incentives to boost home-grown supply.Luxury food retailer Delicateria Traiteur wants to serve up a tempting range of freshly-baked organic cakes to its clientele of Bucharest’s foodies. The local delicatessen’s tempting treats now include chocolate, marshmallow and lemon or vanilla mousse, choc chip and orange, which all use fresh and natural ingredients, with no preservatives, colouring or additives. But store manager Iustina Diaconu is frustrated that she cannot find the correct ecological ingredients in Romania for her cakes.
“I have been trying for one year to find a reliable bio honey producer in Romania, but have failed,” she says. “This happens because there are no funds in this country to support ecological agriculture. Small producers do not have the necessary logistics to deliver their production to market and they do not have marketing teams to create a strategy for them, including designs for attractive packaging. When I did find a well-organised pasta producer, the quality of the products was very poor.”
Delicateria Traiteur has a strong selection of bio chocolate, cereals, biscuits, juice, pasta and rice, but they are made in countries like Belgium and France.
Ecological cocoa, coffee, palm tree sugar and honey on sale in the store orginate mostly from Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Bolivia and Guatemala – which are imported using fair trade rules. “We bring in these products through the equitable trade agreement, where importers pay for products at the average prices from their own country – not from the source nation,” says Diaconu. “This helps protect the farmers in these countries from exploitation.”
In Romania, a new wave of bio stores has opened up in the last three years in cities such as Bucharest, Sibiu and Timisoara – with domestic entrepreneurs including Pukka Food, Leacul, Naturalia, Key Life and BioMarkt, but they are facing the same obstacle: they have to import most of their products.

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