The EU has devoted 11,931,589 hectares to organic production; 6.69 percent of the total acreage. The total area under organic cultivation continues to grow, with potential for further growth, as shown by the proportion of area still in conversion.
The total organic acreage is the sum of the "area in conversion" and the "fully converted area." Before an area can be considered organic it must undergo a conversion process, which may take 2 to 3 years, depending on the crop.
Spain in the lead
Spain ranks first with 2,018,802 hectares devoted to this activity, followed by Italy with 1,796,333, France with 1,537,351, Germany with 1,135,941 and Austria with 571,423 hectares.
Looking at the percentage of the total agricultural devoted by each country, Austria is at the top with 21.25% of its total agricultural acreage, followed by Sweden with 18.3%, Estonia with 18.2%, Italy with 14.19% and the Czech Republic with 14%.
The countries with the lowest share of the acreage devoted to organic production (below 4%) are Malta (0.21%, 24 hectares), Romania (1.67%, 226,000 hectares), Ireland (1.72%, 77 thousand hectares), the United Kingdom (2.82%, 490 thousand hectares), the Netherlands (2.91%, 52 thousand hectares), Bulgaria (3.2%, 161 thousand hectares), Luxembourg (3.27%, 4 300 hectares), Hungary (3.48%, 186 thousand hectares) and Poland (3.72%, 537 thousand hectares).
Looking at the largest producers, Spain devotes 8.48% of its agricultural acreage, Germany 6.62%, Greece 6.73%, France 5.29%, Portugal 6.75% and the Netherlands only 2.91% of its total agricultural area.
Since 2012, the area devoted to organic agriculture in the EU has grown by almost two million hectares. There is also an upward trend in the number of registered organic producers, which reached 295,600 at the end of 2016.
Among the Member States, Spain, Italy, France and Germany registered the largest organic areas and the highest number of organic producers in 2016. Together they account for more than half (54%) of the total area devoted to organic crops in the EU and of the total number of organic producers in the EU.
Between 2012 and 2016, Croatia and Bulgaria registered a growth in their organic acreage of more than 100%. However, five EU Member States reported a downward trend: Greece (-25.9%), Malta (-35.1%), Poland (-18.1%), Romania (-21.5%) and the United Kingdom (-16.9%). However, in the case of Malta, the organic area is small and in absolute terms, the 35% reduction only entails the loss of 13 hectares.