Marketing Neglected and Underutilised Species for biodiversity-based climate change adaptation

How can the private sector be engaged?

Climate change is happening and, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is “extremely likely” (95% level of confidence) that it is man-made. The changes in global climate will affect the whole planet; however, it is the economically disadvantaged who will be disproportionally affected. Most communities in the least developed countries (LDCs) still depend on agriculture as their main source of income. Future changes in climate conditions will massively affect agricultural systems, especially in LDCs.

In order to reduce the vulnerability of those agricultural systems and the communities that rely on them, adaptation measures need to be taken. Climate change resilience and the adaptive capacity of the agricultural sector are determined by the diversity of genes, species, and ecosystems, among other factors. The successful implementation of adaptation strategies, including the fostering of agrobiodiversity, requires human, natural, technical, and financial resources. Private entities need to be involved and engaged to mobilize these financial resources and technical capacities. Private companies and corporations have incentives to prepare their businesses for climate change. One of the strongest incentives is the fact that, because of climate change, some of today’s agricultural or food business models may simply not survive in the future.Private actors may also be incentivised to act by the emergence of new business models, new product opportunities, and of differentiation opportunities in existing markets. Successfully attracting private sector entities to engage in agrobiodiversity-based climate change measures depends on success factors such as relevance, incentives, capacities, and perspectives.

Further, along with successful cultivation and functioning supply chains, market access is crucial. In addition, demand for neglected or underutilised species products has to be triggered through communication and the right branding. However, under all circumstances the utilisation of NUS has to comply with the principles of fair and equitable sharing of benefits.


You can also read the full paper about engaging the private sector through marketing neglected and underutilised species for biodiversity-based climate change adaptation here.


Agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition

How can agricultural biodiversity be used to manage risks and empower the poor?

Proceedings are now available from an International Conference held in Rome in April 2015 to launch the IFAD and EU supported Initiative ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk’.

The conference brought together people with expertise in different areas to discuss the role of agricultural biodiversity in fostering more resilient livelihoods, and to solicit their guidance to refine the methodological framework to be followed over three years.

Check out the conference details and proceedings, including my contribution about private sector engagement for agricultural biodiversity-based climate adaption, nutrition security, and poverty reduction.

You can also read the full paper about engaging the private sector through marketing neglected and underutilised species for biodiversity-based climate change adaptation here.

The conference was lead by Bioversity International. It is supported by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) , the European Commission and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).


Sustainable Inclusive Value Chains

“Can we create fully sustainable and inclusive value chains?”

This question was at the center of discussions at the Think and Drink networking event hosted by Endeva and adelphi in Berlin on November 20, 2015.

Can value chains be 100% sustainable and inclusive? What does that mean in practice for a company? Which measures need to be taken by businesses to influence the entire journey of a product, from sourcing to the point of sale, and what challenges have to be overcome? Endeva and adelphi invited entrepreneurs from various backgrounds to exchange their knowledge and best practices. Participating in the discussion were three social enterprises, Sustainable Harvest, Organic Africa and Berlin Organics, which presented their business concepts and shared their approaches to creating sustainable and inclusive products.


Source: endeva 2015

From coffee to Açai and Moringa, sustainable and inclusive sourcing is possible! While serving its delicious speciality coffee to the fellow participants, Sustainable Harvest gave insights into their long journey to establish themselves as a successful enterprise on the coffee market that adheres to values such as transparency, tractability, and inclusivity.

Organic Africa, former SEED Winner of 2009, succeeded in expanding its product range to encompass oils like Baobab, various herbs and spices. The socially responsible enterprise lives up to the maxim of ensuring a fair trade and organically certified value chain.

A frontrunner in superfood drinks, the social enterprise Berlin Organics, sources niche resources such as Açai or Moringa through direct trade and markets these products in Germany. The fellow participants enthusiastically tested the super food drinks – which earned very positive feedback.

Sustainable value chains need to be transparent, tractable and inclusive! From farming, to processing, retail and consumer integration – Each step of the value chain can ensure sustainability and inclusivity in its own way! Our participants located their strengths at different links of the value chain and could therefore offer complementary perspectives. The discussions centred on three main issues: certifications, partnerships and customer relations.

  • Certification is critical but challenging for smallholders! Organic and fair trade certifications along the value chain are indispensable because they ensure that the consumer receives a 100% sustainable and fair product – or not? Discussions revealed that certifications actually pose a problem to many smallholders. Certifications are very expensive and often applicants need to fulfil additional criteria, such a certain size of staff, to receive them. In the end, many small scale farmers cannot afford to buy certifications and fear to lose their access to international markets. In addition, different types of certifications have been flooding the markets recently, posing new problems of accountability.
  • Social enterprises need to find the right partners and go beyond certification! Preventing a ‘black box’ in the value chain for customers and finding the right and trustworthy partner is a challenge for any social enterprise. As experiences shared by the participants show, certifications are not the best solution to this problem. Instead of solely relying on them, social enterprises need to establish transparent and accountable supply chains and identify trustworthy supply chain partners that are regularly monitored.
  • In addition to high quality, customers appreciate a relation to the product! In a market that is already saturated with seals that mark a product green and fairly produced, how can an enterprise explain the added value of their products to the consumer? With their Relationship Coffee Model, Sustainable Harvest created an approach where smallholder farmers see what happens with their coffee and customers get the chance to closely interact with the people that made their fresh start in the day possible.

inclusive_business_value_chains2Many general and individual solutions were discussed, accepted and discarded at the event. A large thank you is owed to the participants, who tackled these questions in lively debates and provided inspiration, optimism and renewed energy to meet the challenge of creating fully sustainable and inclusive value chains.


Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition

Bioversity International kicks off a three-year project to improve climate change resilience, food and nutrition security and income generation with special focus on indigenous people

„Soil deterioration, farmer debt, diminishing taste and quality of food, and the thinning of our biodiversity safety net, are just a few reasons why the Green Revolution model of high-input production of uniform modern varieties is no longer a viable solution for agricultural development. Demand is growing for a new model that embraces the nutritional and cultural values of food and preserves the agricultural biodiversity needed to help us adapt to an ever changing world.“ (via Bioversity International)

Ann Tutwiler opening the conference

Source: P. Madrid, Bioversity International

Bioversity International, a global research-for-development organization, kicked off a three-year project („Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk“) with focus on neglected and underutilized species to improve resilience and nutrition in Mali, India and Guatemala. The project, supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Union, and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), will pay special attention to indigenous people, who are among the most vulnerable to climate change and some of the most important custodians of agricultural biodiversity. Weiterlesen →

Moringa oleifera – overcoming the challenges of marketing novel plant products

Products derived from biodiversity offer sustainable and inclusive business opportunities for smallholders and rural populations in the countries of origin.[1] Commercialisation of underutilised species contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and promotes food security, thus helping to achieve two of the United Nations’ millennium goals.

Raw Vegan Snacks from Superfoods

Snacks from Superfoods, source: own

Novel food products from so called previously “neglected and underutilized species” are booming.

The US market for herbal supplements saw an increase in volume for the ninth consecutive year, closing at almost 5.6 billion USD in 2012.[2] In most of the cases, these products are made directly or indirectly from plants that have been neglected over the last few centuries but which are now being rediscovered thanks to their many benefits.

However, there are challenges when it comes to establishing novel plant products. Experts list four major issues that need to be solved in order to build and maintain a successful novel plant product business that generates sustainable development benefits in the countries of origin:[3]

1. No clear benefit

Often, new products are being launched just to disappear only months after their first market appearance. Why is that? Simply because there are no or not enough functional benefits, or these benefits are not communicated clearly enough.

2. Regulations

Markets can be developed, competition can be displaced, and consumers can be educated. Indeed, many measures can be taken to drive business forward. However, there is one big potential showstopper – legislation. The danger of legislation was made apparent in 1999 in the case of Noni (Morinda citrifolia), where the US-based company Morinda Inc. had to delay the EU market introduction of their Noni juice product because they did not apply for approval in accordance with the EU Novel Food Regulation.

3. Unsteady supply situation

It is a chicken and egg situation: consumers are not willing to buy until they have gained enough confidence in a product or are otherwise convinced of its value. This means it takes producers a while to achieve significant sales volume when introducing a new product. At the same time, producers need to provide enough stock, in case demand should pick up.

If demand is not as high as predicted then producers in the countries of origin might reduce or even stop their production and the supply of ingredients to the manufacturers of consumer products will run dry. Once demand picks up and orders start coming in, supply will then not be sufficient to meet demand.

Hence, consumers might turn away from the product, leaving it behind. This can be disastrous, especially for producing communities in the countries of origin, as a commercial flop might take away their livelihood.

4. Lack of consumer awareness

Consumer awareness of a new product (or ingredient), relevancy and trust are the most important factors when it comes to the adoption of novel food products from underutilized species. This calls for generic marketing to establish the product category in consumers’ minds.

Often, companies refrain from executing generic marketing campaigns. They fear costs and free rider effects. Consequently, the market might ignore a product, even if the novel food ingredient itself might be highly beneficial.

So is there a solution? How to overcome the challenges of marketing novel plant products? Weiterlesen →

Marketing Neglected and Underutilized Species

Bixa orellana fruit open

Biodiversity, food security, nutrition, health, economic development – all these topics are high on the agenda of numerous organisations around the world and are the goals of global campaigns, initiatives, task forces and research projects. And they all have one thing in common: they are all concerned with the products we gain from agricultural cultivation, the business we create out of it, and the way we consume them.

(download the full article as PDF)

Yet still today, food security is not yet a given, biodiversity is regressing, people in developing countries don’t have access to sufficient nutrition, and populations in industrialised countries suffer from diseases caused by excessive consumption of certain foods. And this is all interlinked. It has all been mentioned before. It’s not new. But we need to think about it again.

There are an estimated 400,000 plant species on this planet. Over 20,000 species are edible. 150 species are commercialised. But only 3 crops are used to meet 50% of the daily worldwide calorie demand: maize, wheat and rice. 95% of our demand is met by only 30 species. Weiterlesen →

EU Novel Food Regulation – will it be amended finally?

EU Novel Food Regulation

The current EU Novel Food Regulation (EU NFR) is regarded as „one of the best known examples of non-tariff measure affecting the entry of biodiversity-based and traditional products into the EU market“ (UNCTAD 2014). A new proposal by the European Comission now seeks to amend the existing NFR.

Introduced in 1997 and meant to protect the EU consumer from harmful (e.g. modified) novel food products containing unknown or unresearched substances it still compasses also traditional plant-based products from third countries making their market introduction into the EU market a lengthy and expensive process. Weiterlesen →

Green Product Award 2014

Logo_GPA_2013-14_800x300Über 200 Einreichungen aus 14 Ländern. 16 Gewinner aus 9 Kategorien, von der Design-Studentin bis zum industriellen Haushaltsgeräte-Hersteller. Bereits im März wurde in Berlin erstmalig der „Green Product Award“, ein Wettbewerb für nachhaltige, innovative Design-Produkte und Services, verliehen.

Nachhaltige Produkte aus unterschiedlichen Bereichen

animalcoffin01-by-louiseknoppert-floredemaillard-amandaoesterlinlamont-_christianfrankmuellerDie Preisträger zeichnen sich vor allem durch glaubwürdige Nachhaltigkeitskonzepte aus und zeigen viel Kreativität. Die Bandbreite reicht von neuartigen Materiallösungen wie dem Trockenmauersystem „Mauern ohne Mörtel“ bis hin zu Ideen wie den aus Abfällen bestehenden, kompostierbaren und mit Pflanzensamen versehenen „Tiersärgen“ für kleine Haustiere, aus denen Bäume wachsen. Weiterlesen →

EU novel food regulation – a barrier to business from biodiversity?

Novel Food Legislation

Source: flickr, Author: R. Casalnuovo

Have you ever wondered, why markets in overseas offer a much broader variety of exotic fruits and vegetables for example, or products that are based on exotic ingredients? Well yes, there might be a couple of reasons, apart from the fact, that they just don’t grow in Europe. Market imperfections, insufficient supply chains, inadequate quality, high transaction costs and maybe simply a different taste. However, from an European perspective, one of the strongest barriers is a legal one: Weiterlesen →

Superfoods everywhere – BIOFACH 2014 review

Just in case you haven’t been to BIOFACH 2014 in Nuremberg this Feb, here’s what you’ve missed. Of course, we can’t cover everything new and innovative that has been displayed at the fair, although it wouldn’t be that much. How come?

Going nuts for healthy solutions

Raw Vegan Snacks from Superfoods

Snacks from Superfoods

Having browsed through the „innovations corner“ at the fair, it became evident, that astonishingly few products are really groundbreaking innovations. Most of the products showcased at the fair were incremental innovations of existing product concepts, e.g. combining existing ingredients with other existing ingredients or putting them into new usage contexts. The big trends seem to be vegan and „-free“ (e.g. gluten free, lactose free, nut free, even soy free). Especially „gluten-free“ is becoming more and more popular. We’re probably going to see a similar development of gluten-free, (and other allergene free products) as we’ve seen in the US, especially California, where gluten-free products own big shelves at the POS. Vegan as well has now definitely arrived in the mainstream. Together with „gluten-free“, „vegan“ appears to be the magic formula for new product concepts in the health/organic food sector. Weiterlesen →

Direct Fair Trade und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit bei Flores Farm

Flores Farm GmbH

Quelle: Flores Farm GmbH

Die Stuttgarter Flores Farm GmbH ist mittlerweile ein gut eingeführter Lieferant für hochwertige, fair und direkt gehandelte Trockenfrüchte und Nüsse in Bioqualität aus aller Welt. Angefangen hatte es jedoch mit nur einem einzigen Produkt: Cashewnüssen aus Indonesien.

Von der Wasserpumpe zur Trockenfrucht

Dabei beschäftigten sich dei beiden Gründern ursprünglich nicht mit Trockenfrüchten. Im Gegenteil, Jochen Wolf war Geschäftsführer eines Heizungs- und Sanitärgroßhandels, sein Studienfreund Martin Steckdaub Entwicklungshelfer. Zusammen begleiteten sie 2005 einen gemeinsamen Freund und ein TV Team zu einer Dokumentation auf die indonesische Insel Flores. Weiterlesen →

Nachhaltige Unternehmen vernetzen sich

IMG_20140212_083138Die BIOFACH in Nürnberg, weltweit größte Messe der Bio-Branche, ist ein Stelldichein des Who-is-who der internationalen Bio-Lebensmittelindustrie. Mit über 2.000 Ausstellern und mehr als 40.000 Besuchern aus 134 Ländern stellte sie einen frühen Höhepunkt im (Bio-)Jahr dar. 9 Messehallen, Produkte aus der ganzen Welt, Hersteller, Händler, Dienstleister und Journalisten – intensive Fachgespräche in professioneller Umgebung prägten das Bild.

Doch auch außerhalb des offiziellen Messeprogramms gab es Highlights. So z. B. das Netzwerktreffen des Verbands der nachhaltigen Unternehmen „dasselbe in grün e.V.„. Versteckt in einer Bar in der Nürnberger Altstadt wurde bei fränkischem Bio-Bier genetzwerkt – denn das ist laut Verbandssatzung Ziel des Verbandes. Interessante Gespräche rund um das Messegeschehen, Innovationen aber auch allgemeine Trends und Themen prägten den Abend. Dass es abwechslungsreich und interessant war, dafür sorgte die Zusammensetzung der Mitglieder. Weiterlesen →

BIOFACH2014 – what are the trends in novel food ingredients?

Biofach 2013

Source: Biofach

BIOFACH, the World’s leading Trade Fair for Organic Food, celebrates its 25th anniversary from 12–15th of February 2014 in the city of Nuremberg, Germany. More than 2.000 exhibitors from all over the world, with 70% international guests, will be coming together for what is considered the path-leading trade fair in organic and wholefood business.

This year’s focus is on the future of organic agriculture, future food economics, and the underlying trends and developments, such as globalisation and global culture. Main consumer trends that have been identified, are veganism, milk subsitute products and convenience:

BioFach und Vivaness 2013

Source: Biofach

“This is not a totally new vegan world, however. Many products have, of course, existed for a long time, but now they are declared and marketed as vegan products. This is clear evidence of the social importance of this theme. There is a great deal of interest, and this is shown by people with a wide range of lifestyles,” explains industry expert Michael Radau in the official press statements.
Weiterlesen →

Next Generation Food zum Thema Nachhaltigkeit

„Bleiben Sie beim Essen verführbar!“ Mit diesen Worten schloß Vijay Sapre,ünder, Zeitschriftenherausgeber und Gastronom seine Eröffnungsrede der „Next Generation Food 2013“. Denn was auf der einen Seite den persönlichen Genuss fördert und vor dem Risiko schützt, Essen als rein „funktionalen Akt“ zu betrachten, das eröffnet auf der anderen Seite neue Marktchancen.

Franken Chefkoch de

Robert Franken von

Er sollte Recht behalten. Vorträge, Workshops und Gespräche drehten sich bei der ersten „Next Generation Food“ Konferenz am 14.10. in Berlin um die Themen Ernährung, Online-Food Business, Gesundheit und Nachhaltigkeit. Die Beiträge waren vielfältig. Den Auftakt macht Robert Franken, Gründer von und Mitorganisator der Konferenz, mit seinem Beitrag zum Thema Food Trends. Wird heutzutage fast alles als „Megatrend“ ausgerufen, so ist die neue Form der Auseinandersetzung  mit unserer Nahrung, wie sie aktuell in der Gesellschaft zu beobachten ist, als „Metatrend“ zu sehen. Auf unterschiedlichen Kanälen tauschen sich Menschen mittlerweile (wieder?) intensiv über Kochen, Essen und Rezepte aus. Das geht über das reine Nachschlagen auf der Internetplattform hinaus. Naheliegend daher auch die Erweiterung des chefkoch Angebots in Form eines neuen Print Magazins. Weiterlesen →

direkt, fair, online – Der neue faire Handel

direct fair trade Versandhandel e-commerceTransparenz, Fairness und Nachhaltigkeit sind die aktuellen Trendthemen in Konsumgüterindustrie und Handel. In der Lebensmittelbranche bereits seit einigen Jahren Agenda-bestimmend, nicht zuletzt getrieben durch die jüngsten Lebensmittelskandale, werden diese Themen nun für andere Branchen relevant. Auch Textil- und Kosmetikindustrie werden sich in Zukunft intensiver mit Transparenz, Fairness und Nachhaltigkeit auseinandersetzen müssen. Selbst die Unterhaltungselektronikbranche, bislang nicht als Musterschüler in puncto Nachhaltigkeit geltend, wird mittelfristig einen Fairness Trend erleben. Aktuelle Studien zur Verbraucherwahrnehmung zeigen einen deutlichen Konsumentenwunsch nach mehr „Fairness“.

Aus Verbrauchersicht sind diese Themen in zweifacher Hinsicht relevant. Zum einen besteht ein Bedürfnis nach fair und nachhaltig hergestellten Produkten — Siegel für fairen Handel, bzw. nachhaltigen Anbau und Herstellung erfreuen sich steigender Bekanntheit und Akzeptanz — zum anderen möchten Konsumenten auch beim Einkauf dem Händler vertrauen. Speziell im Versandhandel spielen Vertrauen und Transparenz eine wesentliche Rolle. Im Onlinehandel zeigte sich dies z. B. in den vergangenen Jahren im Trend zu Siegeln für Online Shops. Weiterlesen →

EU novel food regulation – a barrier to business from biodiversity?

Novel Food Legislation

Source: flickr, Author: R. Casalnuovo

Have you ever wondered, why markets in overseas offer a much broader variety of exotic fruits and vegetables for example, or products that are based on exotic ingredients? Well yes, there might be a couple of reasons, apart from the fact, that they just don’t grow in Europe. Market imperfections, insufficient supply chains, inadequate quality, high transaction costs and maybe simply a different taste. However, from an European perspective, one of the strongest barriers is a legal one: Weiterlesen →

„Die Firmen sollen endlich aufhören, sich auf Konsumenten einzustellen. Sie sollten sich auf sich selbst fokussieren und ihr Dasein hinterfragen: „Was wäre die Welt ohne mich?“

Quelle: Simonetta Carbonaro, in

Direkter fairer Handel bei Coffee Circle

Coffee Circle Logo„Unternehmensberater gründen Start-up in Berlin und nutzen Internet als Vertriebskanal…“ – der Nachrichtenwert einer solchen Meldung wäre gering und dies möglicherweise ein Thema für ein anderes Blog.

Und doch gehört es hier her. Warum?

Die drei ehemaligen Unternehmensberater, Martin Elwert, Robert Rudnick und Moritz Waldstein-Wartenberg gründen 2010 das Unternehmen „Coffee Circle“ in Berlin und vertreiben damit hochwertigen äthiopischen Kaffee über das Internet. Fair und direkt gehandelt, nach eigenen Angaben zu Einkaufspreisen über Weltmarktniveau und in direktem Austausch mit den Erzeugern vor Ort. Teile der Erlöse fließen zurück in, zuvor mit der lokalen Bevölkerung definierte, Projekte. Somit entspricht Coffe Circle den Gedanken von „people, planet, profit und purpose“.

Gruender mit Kooperative in Aethiopien

Die Gründer im Gespräch mit einer Kooperative in Äthiopien

Das Prinzip ist nicht neu. Bereits in den 1980er Jahren startete Prof. Günter Faltin mit seiner Teekampagne ein Unternehmen, das dem Gedanken des direkten fairen Handels (direct fair Trade) entsprach. Einfach, transparent, fair und nur die beste Qualität. Das ist bei Coffee Circle ähnlich. Allerdings geht man hier noch einen Schritt weiter.
Weiterlesen →

Agrarprofit – Guerilla Marketing Aktion für Fair Trade

September 2012. Ein Wochenmarkt irgendwo in Deutschland. Das fiktive Unternehmen „Agrarprofit“ wirbt mit billigen Produkten bei vollkommener Transparenz. Kinderarbeit? Dumpinglöhne? Pestizide? Die Konsumenten sehen und hören es. Und kaufen trotzdem.

Das Experiment wurde von der Gießener Werbeagentur YOOL im Rahmen der Kampagne „Öko + Fair ernährt mehr!“ durchgeführt. Es macht deutlich: Die Verfügbarkeit von Informationen und Transparenz über Herkunft und Herstellung alleine reichen nicht aus. Die Konsumenten müssen tatsächlich realisieren, was sie kaufen und bewusst entscheiden ob sie es kaufen. Mitdenken ist das Stichwort.

Die Kampagne „Öko + Fair ernährt mehr!“ wurde vom Weltladen Dachverband und Naturland initiiert. Mehr Informationen zu Oekoplusfair unter:


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