The commercialization of organic products has a promising future in Costa Rica since the large supermarket chains have entered the market, reported a study for the Center for the Investigation of Sustainable Markets (CIMS), a division of the Central American Institute of Business Administration.
According to the study’s findings, the supermarkets’ fresh-produce buyers want producers to develop products accordant with the Costa Rican diet, and ensure they can supply a sufficient and consistent volume, the daily La Nación reported.
The investigation determined that supermarkets pay 5-25% more for organic than traditionally grown produce, then markup prices 7-71%, though the study found that most try to ensure that the markup for consumers does not exceed 25%.
Supermarkets also require organic certification, and while many producers go through this process, others sell their harvests at farmers’ markets without it.
Costa Rica’s organic produce sector is growing. According to the National Organic Agriculture Program Web site, in Costa Rica there are 11,000 hectares certified as organic, compared to 9,000 hectares in 1998.
Between 2000 and 2003 there was a 13% increase in registered organic producers, from 3,500 to nearly 4000 (TT,March 5, 2004).
The increased supply and demand can be seen in the increased outlets for consumers. In addition to supermarkets (TT, May 6, 2005), there are more than 15 farmers’ markets and stands throughout the country, that sell orgzanic produce including in Alajuela, Cartago, Escazú, Puerto Viejo, Turrialba, and Zarcero (TT, March 5, 2004).