Agrofun has launched in September its brand Chia Oruro® for direct retail sale online of organic chia seeds produced in France. The line is certified by Ecocert (FR-BIO-001) and offered in 250 g jars for 29,90 Euro, including sales tax (VAT) and delivery throughout the country.

And the Qualisol cooperative, a participant under the Chia de France, providing the French retail chain Biocoop organic Chia Oruro® seeds under the Monbio brand. Smaller retailers like Les Jardins de Julie operating in the Toulouse region welcome the introduction of Chia Oruro® and hypermarket chain E.Leclerc introduced in August Chia Oruro® available in 250g jars, although not organic. A brand offering innovative products made from Chia Oruro® is Chia Line. It uses its flour and chia oil for crackers, chips, and spreads.

Chia originates in Mexico and has also been cultivated since ancient times in Guatemala. Other firms are offering chia seeds under different brands, mainly imported from South America, which has created a wide range of prices on display.

Even though the production cost and retail price of Chia Oruro® are higher, the carbon footprint of Chia Oruro® is lower, since it is locally cultivated and with no traces of agrochemicals, a problem that chia from Bolivia has encountered, because it is grown in an area close to large extensions of conventional soybeans. The most devoted health-oriented consumers appreciate not only food with organic certification, but if it is locally grown.

Agrofun was the first company to introduce chia seeds cultivated in Europe following a ten-year breeding program with chia (Salvia Hispanica L.). Today, nine out of ten French people are deficient in Omega 3, a fatty acid that is essential to the human body. Under the umbrella Chia de France, Agrofun and other private and public stakeholders are nourishing the development of the chia culture in France as a new source of Omega 3 of plant origin. A multidisciplinary team of researchers, investors and farmers are seeking funding for projects that relate to the Omega 3 deficiency and the possible uses of chia to solve this issue. “We are campaigning for every French citizen to become aware of the benefits of this seed and to integrate it into their eating habits,” said Frederic Poujaud, managing director at Agrofun and its parent company PANAM Semences. “Our goal is to create awareness that just 10 grams of chia seeds per day provide 100 percent of the nutritional needs of Omega 3 our bodies require. Only 5 grams of chia cover the average Omega 3 daily deficiency present in the Western Hemisphere.”

About 80 percent of the global chia supply comes from South America, mainly Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Peru. Other countries, like Australia, and select countries in Asia-Pacific are scaling production to meet the global demand. “Chia demand is experiencing a vertiginous growth, reaching worldwide 300 000 hectares, according to the FAO. The global chia seed market is expected to reach a value of 2.1 billion U.S. dollars by 2022, one of the fastest growing commodity markets registering a CAGR of 40.62 percent during 2017-2022.

The European Commission has approved the use of chia seed in bread products, with a limit not more than 5%. In other regions, chia is used as a functional ingredient in baked goods but also in breakfast cereals, energy bars, yogurt, and other foods. Chia Oruro® is a variety with early flowering that allows production in temperate regions. It seems well adapted to the south of France.