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France: Market and land under organic management increase strongly in 2008

Sales of organic food in France jumped 25 percent last year and more than 60 percent in three years to reach 2.6 billion Euros, according to Agence Bio, the French Organic Food and Farming Agency.

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(Reuters/Agence Bio) Agence Bio did not give any forecast for 2009 but has said it expected the French organic food sector to continue growing, although maybe at a slower rate, as more consumers seek to avoid pesticides and genetically-modified organisms.

The government is also encouraging organic food in schools and restaurants.

The share of organic food in total food sales was at 1.7 percent in 2008, against 1.1 percent in 2007.

To meet swelling demand, farmers increasingly switched to organic agriculture with the land devoted to organic food nearly tripling in nine years to 580'000 hectares, against 210'000 hectares in 1999, Agence Bio said. Compared with 2007, the total organically managed land increased by 5 percent; the in-conversion area by 34 percent.

Growth rates in most major organic food markets, such as the United States, Germany or Britain, have weakened in recent months as countries have been hit by the economic downturn. But in many countries the trend had already started in 2008.

Britain's Soil Association said in a report last month that sales of organic products in the UK had slowed to 1.7 percent in 2008, well below the average annual growth rate of 26 percent over the last decade.

In Italy, purchases of packaged organic foods with bar codes rose by 5.4 percent in value in 2008, down from a 10.2 percent growth in 2007, according to a survey of Italian families released in February.

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Agence Française pour le Développement et la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique
6 rue Lavoisier
93100 MONTREUIL-SOUS-BOIS
Tél.: +33 1 48 70 48 30
Fax +33 1 48 70 48 45
contact(at)agencebio.org
www.agencebio.org
www.printempsbio.com

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