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Global organic market: Positive mood

In a recent press release BioFach informs about current market trends. FiBL provided some of the information from the current survey on organic agriculture world-wide.


(October 2009, BioFach press release): Although the growth in sales of organic food and drinks has slowed down in 2009, growth is still apparent,” says Amarjit Sahota of market researcher Organic Monitor in London. “The biggest growth is in Europe and North America, but demand is also increasing in the Asia-Pacific region and in Latin America,” the internationally recognized organic expert continues. 

In 2007, 32 million ha were farmed organically throughout the world and sales of organic food were 46 billion US dollars. This figure should have topped the 50 billion US dollars mark in 2008.  
According to the latest figures from the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), both the organic areas and markets grew strongly again at international level in 2008. “The organic area in Europe has risen from 7.8 to 8.3 million ha, which is 6 % more,” says Helga Willer of FiBL. The provisional figures for the EU countries show that the area has increased from 7.2 to 7.7 million ha. Spain registered the biggest growth with 33 %, and the area of organic land grew by 10 % in Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark. The organic area in Italy decreased, but is still more than 1 million ha. However, the country with the most organic land in Europe is now Spain with 1.3 million ha, of which 1.1 million ha are farming land. Only a few figures are available for countries outside Europe. In Argentina, for example, the area has risen by 40 % from 2.9 to 4 million ha, including a very large share of grassland.  
USA: Impressive market growth boosts organic market 

Growth in the USA in 2008 was a remarkable 16 % despite the economic crisis that began in the second half of the year. Some 20 % had been achieved in each of the preceding years. Sales of organic food and drinks meanwhile amount to some 23 billion US dollars, and as much as 24.6 billion US dollars if the non-food sector is included. The fastest-growing segments were bread and grain products with 35 % and drinks with 31 %, according to the Organic Industry Survey, the annual report published by the American Organic Trade Association (OTA) of Greenfield, MA. The non-food sector experienced a real boom and expanded by almost 40 % to more than 1.6 billion US dollars. The 3.5 % organic share of total spending on food is comparable with Germany.  
Europe: 18 billion EUR organic sales in 2008 

European sales of organic products in 2008 rose by 10 % over the previous year and are estimated at 18 billion EUR. Except in Great Britain, where the market grew by only 1.8 %, the effects of the economic crisis were not yet noticeable in the other countries. Switzerland can be pleased about an even steeper rise than in the years before with 11 % growth to 0.9 billion EUR. Some 80 % of Danish organic sales in 2008, which rose by a remarkable 28 % to 620 million EUR, are achieved in the retail trade. The figures do not include direct marketing and specialist organic shops. The market in the Czech Republic grew by 40 % (2007: 70 %).  
Germany: Growth in the specialist trade – decline for discounters 

According to the German association, Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN) Herstellung und Handel of Berlin, and the sales barometer of the German trade magazine, BioHandel, the organic food market has grown by 1.5 % in the first half of 2009 on the same area. The consumer researcher, Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK) in Nürnberg, Germany, assumes a drop of 4 % in all sales channels of the organic market in the first half of 2009. Discounters even had to accept a loss of 6 %. Prices dropped by 7 %. One possible reason for the decline in prices and total sales is that customers are changing to cheaper organic products and conventional products. 
The prices for organic products in the organic food retail trade remained largely stable in the first half of 2009. Experts attribute this to the customer structure in this trade segment, which is traditionally frequented by convinced intensive buyers and fewer occasional buyers. 
The number of Germans who regard environmental and social compatibility of certain products as very important dropped in line with the global economic crisis. Nevertheless, the German consumers’ desire to spend remained unchanged at a good level and, according to GfK, the German customers are increasing their spending on environmentally and socially compatible products all the time, regardless of whether occasional, frequent or intensive buyer. So there is still a trend to green and ethically correct consumption. 
France: Record growth for organic products in 2008 

The organic market in France grew by 25 %, stronger than ever before in the past years, and in 2008 reached 2.6 billion EUR for the first time. The size of the organically farmed area has increased from 210,000 ha to 580,000 ha within ten years. The conversion areas have increased by 36 % in only a year and there are 11 % more organic farms. According to the semi-public Agence Bio in Paris, as much as 6 % of the agricultural area is to be farmed under organic conditions by 2012 – three times more than today, and as much as 20 % more by 2020. At the beginning of August it was decided to double the maximum subsidy rate for organic farms as a measure to specifically promote organic agriculture. This is based on the Loi Grenelle act, the result of two years of social discourse. Article 31 defines clear targets for French organic farming. The act defines aspects such as the national action plan for fighting climate change and passes specific implementing regulations for segments like energy, transport, waste and agriculture. All measures are intended to contribute towards sustainable development of the country. 
Italy: 7 % growth in the first six months of 2009  
Organic sales in Italy are growing again this year and rose by 7 % in the first half of 2009, according to information from the Italian market researcher Ismea/AC Nielsen, Rome, Italy. Fruit and vegetables, drinks and eggs were particularly in demand. The organic supermarket chain NaturaSì with currently 66 large organic stores achieved 15 % more sales in the same period. The specialist trade also sold 10 % more in the first quarter, reports Italy’s leading organic food wholesaler Ecor, which also owns the NaturaSì stores. Ecor offers the retail trade its B’io marketing programme, in which 250 specialist stores participate. “The Ki Group, another important organic food wholesaler, achieved 14 % more sales, which is mainly attributed to the extension of its range and the development of promotional measures in the shops,” reports the Italian organic market expert, Roberto Pinton. 
Turkey: Focus on organic exports  
Turkey is committed to the production of organic products. This applies to both the national market and exports. Estimates by a working group involving official bodies and the organic association Bugday show that the organic growing area could increase from the present 0.8 % to 3 % and the value of the national market from 5 to 50 million US dollars by 2012. The export figures are forecast to rise from 150 million to 1 billion US dollars in the same period.

Source: BioFach press release of October 2009

More information




Data collection on organic farming world-wide and the publication of the yearbook is funded by NürnbergMesse, the organiszers of the BioFach organic trade fair since 2000. Since 2008 funding in order to extend and enhance data collection has also been made available by the International Trade Centre ITC and the Swiss state secretariat of Economic Affairs SECO. 

The complete data on organic agriculture world-wide will be presented at the next BioFach Congress in February 2010.

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