International News - Delhaize drops plans for dedicated organic stores

Belgian supermarket group Delhaize has pulled plans for a dedicated organic food chain.

A one-shop trial in Brussels has run for the past two years and Delhaize had planned to open five stores a year.

During the test period, there was a significant increase in sales of organic food, which grew by 35 per cent in 2001, and 11 per cent last year. A spokeswoman said that as a result of the growth, Delhaize would concentrate its efforts on selling the ranges in its mainstream stores.

In Delhaize supermarkets, organic produce sits beside standard products and the spokeswoman said this is a more appropriate way of catering for how shoppers buy organic food.

'We find it better to have the ranges among other products, because some customers only buy certain products from the organic range,' she said.

The retailer's organic Bio range has been in stores since 1985, and stands at about 650 products.

Last year, the range increased by a further 100 and the retailer expects to match that increase this year.

The existing 100 sq m store is operated by a local retailer, which will maintain the shop when Delhaize pulls out. The store, called Bio Square, will remain open, but become an independent business.

About a third of all organic food is in Belgium is from Delhaize, so the Bio range accounts for 3 per cent of supermarket sales, or 2.5 per cent of total revenue.

Delhaize has stores across Asia and the US, as well as on the Continent.