European organic market doubles in size in a decade

Over the past decade, the EU's organic market has doubled in size. In 2017, its total value reached 34,300 million Euro (37% of the world's organic market, whose total value amounts to 92,000 million Euro).

As revealed by a market report on organic farming in the EU, the presence of organic food varies considerably from country to country. The largest organic markets in the EU are Germany, with 10,000 million Euro, and France, with 7,900 million Euro.

Between 2010 and 2017, the EU's organic acreage recorded a sharp increase. In 2017, 7% of the EU's total agricultural land was devoted to organic products, an increase of 70% compared to 2009. Imports also played an important role. The demand for organic tropical fruits and organic nuts was particularly noteworthy.

As the report explains, the relatively high prices of organic products have been a driving force behind the sector's growth. Bio products are sold for a price that can be up to 150% higher than that of traditionally grown products.

The total number of organic farms has also increased. In 2016, there were almost 250,000 organic farms in the EU. In total, there were 14,000 new additions to the organic sector between 2010 and 2017, although 10,000 companies that were previously organic went back to traditional agriculture. Some of the main reasons for this return were quantitative restrictions, or years with a poor harvest.

EU imports of organic products amounted to 3.4 million tons in 2018. China was the most important supplier, with 415,000 tons, accounting for 12.7% of the total market. Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine and Turkey also had significant market shares. The list of most popular import products included tropical fruits, nuts and grains.

Imports account for a considerable share of the EU's organic product market, giving consumers more choices. This is partly due to the fact that products are offered which cannot be grown properly in Europe, or which are not available in some periods. The report states that these market gaps may be harder to fill for organic crops, due to the three-year conversion period.

According to the report, "the market for organic products is not yet mature" and "even more growth is expected." In order to meet the expected increase in the demand, growth is expected both in cultivation and in the imports arriving into the EU."


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