Bulgaria’s organic farming contracts despite growth in consumer demand 

Photo: Pixabay Bulgarian consumer demand for organics has grown in recent years due to economic stability, improved purchasing power, and increased popularity for products perceived as healthful. In 2020, the […]
Wed 10/03/2021
Photo: Pixabay

Bulgarian consumer demand for organics has grown in recent years due to economic stability, improved purchasing power, and increased popularity for products perceived as healthful. In 2020, the Bulgarian organics market was valued at about US$38 million (USDA data), with growing sales of packaged foods and beverages, but declining sales of fresh produce due to pandemic-related farmers markets closures. Demand growth is expected to increase by the end of 2021 and in 2022 due to favourable consumer trends and better prospects for the hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sectors.

Bulgarian agricultural land under organic production (fully converted and under conversion) at the end of 2019 declined by 9% from 2018. 2019 organic land accounted for 2.34% of Bulgaria’s total agricultural area, down from 2.56% in 2018. Certification, compliance, and domestic support for organic farmers remain as policy priorities for the Government of Bulgaria.

Conversely, the number of processors and traders of organic foods continued to grow in 2019 by 1.3% and 32.2%, respectively, over 2018. This development was encouraged by higher consumer demand for processed products, newly built processing facilities in Bulgaria, and increasingly efficient value chains. As a result, the number of Bulgarian organic food processors in 2019 has increased 47% since 2014 and the number of traders in 2019 has tripled since 2015.

Bulgaria’s organic horticultural area declined in 2019 from 2018. The fresh vegetable area declined by 19% and the organic orchard crop area declined by 10%. Nevertheless, vegetable production increased by 7.8% and orchard crop production by 7.6% due to higher yields, with pome fruits the notable exception. Higher demand from processors and for direct consumption for fresh organic produce has incentivised farmers to improve and inputs for better yields.