Updated: Jun 12
Organic farming is becoming a prevalent force in the agriculture field, thanks to the range of benefits it offers in the form of taste, nutrition, and health. The advantages of organic farming not only end with our diet but also extend to the environment, which means adapting to an organic diet not only helps you maintain your best health but also keeps the environment safer.
The rise in the awareness of organic food and its benefits has also caused a surge in online delivery demands of the same. Organic food production employs the best environmental practices including preservation of natural resources, no use of genetic engineering, pesticides, additives, or fertilizers. Nevertheless, when it comes to delivery, organic food can be a challenge, given its short shelf life and high maintenance cost. (The points listed below are based on our experience in delivering organic vegetables and fruits in Delhi & Gurgaon.)
If you are looking to start your organic farming or a business related to delivering organic food products, here are a few things about organic food you should know about:
Short shelf life
One of the biggest challenges with maintaining a supply chain of organic food is the short shelf life of these products. Since organic farming does not employ fertilizers, waxes, and other toxic chemicals to lengthen the lives of the vegetables and fruits, the organic produce is more vulnerable to bacterial build-up and retains a short life span. Conventional fruits and vegetables are treated with various chemicals to keep them resilient during both the growing process and afterward.
Moreover, unlike traditional fruits and vegetables, organic produce can not be kept in cold storage, lest they are to lose all their nutrients. The shorter lifespan makes it difficult for organic food to be packed and put on the shelf in a grocery store for days. If you are delivering organic food, you will have to do it within hours of harvest so you can provide your customers with the products in their best health and taste.
Hard to reach a larger customer base
Extending on the previous point, organic food can not be delivered to a larger customer base, especially if the customers reside too far away from the farm. Organic foods tend to lose their nutrition over time, giving you only a short time for consumption. So traveling a great distance to reach a larger customer base is counterproductive and can cause you to lose both your products and your potential customer.
Since organic foods are not treated with waxes or preservatives at least to the same degree that conventional fruits and vegetables are, they tend to spoil faster. Moreover, the production, handling, and delivery of the products also play an important role in how soon the products will spoil. Due to the organic food supply chain system not having developed to the point to counter these issues, delivering organic products to a larger customer base over distant areas can be detrimental to the products and overall organic lifestyle benefits.
Might get complaints about the look and feel of the product
When we talk about organic food we imagine picture-perfect, juicy, and shiny fruits and vegetables that seem to have come straight out of heaven. While, in reality, organic foods don’t look perfect. In fact, most organic foods are often various in shapes and sizes and might have various pigments all over them due to a lack of exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.
Customers who are getting their hands on organic food for the first time might be surprised by the look and feel of the products. And in their ignorance might choose to return the product, citing the different shapes and sizes of the fruits and vegetables. If, as an organic farmer or food delivery service, you find yourself in such a situation where your customers are unhappy with how the products look, you can let them know that organic food does not use any laxatives or waxes to perfect its look. However, the taste and the nutrient content of the products can compensate for the look, shape, size, and everything else.
As we have mentioned already, organic food is supposed to be consumed soon after it is harvested. If organic food is kept longer than usual in any sort of storage, it tends to lose its nutrient value and water retention. The fact that organic food has a shorter life span than traditional food makes it difficult to store and maintain its optimum value. This is where the use of technology comes in. Those who farm or work with organically grown produce are tackling these challenges with the help of technological advancements and supply chain enhancements. Temperature monitors, shipment management tools, transit timing, and other metrics are used during the transportation of organic food to keep them as fresh as possible. The goal is to maintain a cold chain as soon as the food is harvested and up to the time it is delivered to the customer.
Nevertheless, the temperature should not be too cold either as it could put the produce in a state of comatose. An even temperature should be maintained right from the harvesting of the products to their delivery.
The most daunting tasks for most food distributors, farmers, and grocers include working on tight margins, trade wars, and vulnerable products that require optimum care and precise transportation schedules. This could be especially troublesome for those who have only gotten into the world of organic farming and distributing. (Read our Organic Farming Start-up story here)
Nevertheless, with proper skills, expertise, and a passionate heart in place, most of these issues can be conquered and made the best out of. The world is slowly starting to realize the importance of organic food, it is time the producers and distributors start taking their roles seriously and do their best to provide organic food to customers in its best state.