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Organic Sector Coping with Inflation, Supply Disruptions

 

By: Sunil Kalra

In the lives of most of us, not too old to recall the days of World Wars and the Great Depression, the past two years have been the most stressful. No college exam or entrance test or application delay in the processing of your immigration papers by Canada has given people as much cause for concern as Covid-19 and the fallout from it that continues to haunt us to this day.


Over the past two years, millions have died and millions more have been left with long-term complications. This has been a real human tragedy of gigantic proportions. And our sympathies are with those who have suffered the loss of a loved one or lost their livelihoods during this period.


Beyond the human toll, the pandemic has left its impact on several sectors, the supply chain issue being a major headache for businesses like ours that depend on the smooth flow of goods across the world. The bottlenecks in the worldwide supply chain are expected to last a few more years before it returns to its former reliability.

Brands like us are making access to organic options not only possible for under-served populations like the South Asians in North America, but also making it cheaper as major grocers start stocking more and more of our products on their shelves. Today Bloom products are not only found at ethnic stores (bless them for being the pioneers), but also in major retailers like Walmart and Loblaw’s and Sobeys.


There are ways to lessen the impact of price rise. Just like in any other retail sector, we too offer, occasionally, discounts and special offers. I am painfully aware that in the past few months, we have been hamstrung by a number of factors that have discouraged (or rather disabled) us from making these kind of offers.


We have had to put up with supply chain disruptions, astronomic freight rates, and of course, the rising price points at each stage as the world experiences record levels of inflation made worse by shortages due to the war in Ukraine. You might have seen that some of our most popular products like the organic MP Sharbati atta (flour) has been in short supply for a while. We regret the inconvenience, but we are doing everything possible to normalize the situation.


We are trying to hold the price line wherever possible, but you might see slight increases on certain items. I am glad to share with you that rise in the prices of organic products is considerably less than the prices of regular foods. According to Statcan’s available data for April 2022, Canadians paid 9.7% more for food than in April 2021. In certain items like fresh fruits (10%) and grain-based foods like pasta (20%), it has touched record levels. 

A recent survey published by axios.com in the US reported price increases of 2% to 4% for organic foods on an average while the regular food costs rose by 11%. The situation is most likely the same here in Canada. The report credited the participation of private brands (like Bloom I guess!) for holding down the price line. Last year’s data, according to its author, was very encouraging for the organic sector.


Everyone today all over the world is coping with increased cost of living and supply
shortages. Why I am speaking to you about it here is because the relationship between customers and businesses in the organic space is a little different from all others. At least I would like to believe so. For us and others in the organic sector, it is not merely a business, but a mission. That means we have to maintain high levels of transparency, accountability and sensitivity to customer concerns.


We are in this journey together. Many of you have been with us for years and continue to spread the message, encouraging even more to join. Once again, thank you for your custom and commitment to a healthy planet and a healthier you!


Sunil Kalra is the Founder/CEO of Bloom Global Foods, parent company of www.bloomorganicbazaar.com

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