“Worried, I don’t know, but we ask ourselves questions. Léna and Fabrice Monnier obtained their precious organic label in 2020, while France applauded its caregivers every evening and knocked on the doors of its peasants. A real consecration for this couple living in Domloup, south-east of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine). “We always wanted to go organic. But as we were not from the middle, we started in conventional, because it was more practical, easier to start. “Two years after obtaining the precious label they so much hoped for, the two dairy cow breeders are suffering, like the whole industry, from a major crisis. Overwhelmed by too much supply, the market failed to attract enough consumers. For several months, the price of organic milk has plummeted, to the point of being today at the same price as its conventional counterpart, whose price is soaring.
Members of Triballat in Noyal-sur-Vilaine (now renamed Olga), Léna and Fabrice were lucky to see their dairy maintain its purchase price. But on one condition: “We made a commitment to produce 3% less volume. “With the increase in charges and inflation, the couple had to lower their income in order to maintain that of their three collaborators. Do they regret their conversion when the conventional sector is doing well? ” Absolutely not. Our desire has always been to set up a virtuous and non-polluting system”, assumes Léna Monnier. For Domloup breeders, the solution lies with consumers. “They are the ones with the power. Without them, we are useless. On Sunday, the Monniers will therefore open their farm to around 250 people for their first participation in the Organic Milk Festival.
“Organic is not just a label”
Organized throughout France, this 18th edition takes on a very special meaning this year. First, because the party was spoiled for two years by the restrictions imposed by the epidemic. But above all because it appears as a means of winning back consumers. “We want to bring people back to our farms, to share, to reconnect with the countryside”, assumes Emilien Mondher, member of Agrobio35 who organizes the party. This breeder based in Betton, north of Rennes, has only about twenty cows, all of the Breton piebald breed. He will be waiting for him on June 19 to welcome the public to the farm. But his intention remains the same. “Organic is not just a label. People only understand it by coming to see how we work. They see the grassy meadows, animal welfare, the way butter, cream and yogurts are made. »
He is not worried about the future of the sector. Firstly because it does not depend on a dairy but sells everything directly. But above all because he has faith in his system.
With the war in Ukraine, we see fertilizers blaze. The organic system does not use it, it is more autonomous in terms of food, more resistant”.
Faced with the drop in demand, dairies are now refusing all conversion requests. A finding difficult to swallow for the younger generations who want to settle. For five years, the collection of organic milk has increased by +12 to +30% each year, to reach more than 1.2 billion liters last year. That is just over 5% of the national total.
To start again, the sector would also like a clarification of the countless labels that have invaded the packaging of dairy products in recent years. “The consumer, when he arrives on the shelf, he is lost. He sees short circuits, high environmental quality products that are absolutely not organic”, regrets Fabrice Monnier. Facts translate into sales numbers. According to FranceAgriMer, over the period 2019-2021, the consumption of all organic dairy products fell by 5% for bottled milk and 15% for fresh cheeses. There is a market to be conquered. Nothing like a little party to seduce him.