European organic market grew to more than 37 billion euros in 2017

Thu 07/03/2019 by Richard Wilkinson

The organic market in Europe continues to grow. In 2017, it increased by almost 11 percent and reached 37.3 billion euros. Many of the major markets enjoyed double-digit growth rates. At BIOFACH, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the Agricultural Market Information Company (AMI) and partners are presenting the 2017 data of the European organic sector (February 13, 2019 from 5 to 6:00 pm at BIOFACH in Nuremberg, Hall Shanghai).

In 2017, the European organic sector experienced strong growth in terms of area, producers, and markets.

Almost 15 million hectares of farmland are organic in Europe – Spain has the largest area

In Europe, 14.6 million hectares were organic in 2017 (European Union: 12.8 million hectares). With 2.1 million hectares, Spain continues to be the country with the largest organic area in Europe, followed by Italy (1.9 million hectares), and France (1.7 million hectares).

Organic farmland increased by almost one million hectares

The organic land increased by one million hectares in Europe and by 0.8 million hectares in the European Union, representing an increase of 7.6 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. Growth was higher than in the first years of the current decade. Russia reported over 300’000 hectares more than in 2016, and France reported over 200’000 hectares more.

Liechtenstein is the country with the highest organic share of the total farmland in the world

Organic farmland in Europe constituted 2.9 percent of the total agricultural land and 7.2 percent in the European Union. In Europe (and globally), Liechtenstein had the highest organic share of all farmland (37.9 percent) followed by Austria, the country in the European Union with the highest organic share (24.0 percent). Ten European countries reported that at least 10 percent of their farmland is organic.

Organic producers on the rise

There were almost 400’000 organic producers in Europe (European Union: almost 310’000), and the largest numbers were in Turkey (more than 75’000) and Italy (more than 68’000). The number of producers grew by almost 7 percent in Europe (almost 4 percent in the European Union) in 2017.

Strong growth of processors and importers

There were more than 71’000 processors in Europe and more than 68’000 in the European Union. More than 5’300 importers were counted in Europe and almost 4‘600 in the European Union. Particularly strong growth was noted for importers, which increased by double digits. The country with the largest number of processors was Italy (more than 18‘000), while Germany had the most importers (almost 1’700).

Retail sales surpass the 37 billion euro mark

Retail sales in Europe were valued at 37.3 billion euros (34.3 billion euros in the European Union). The largest market was Germany (10 billion euros). The European Union represents the second largest single market for organic products in the world after the United States (40 billion euros).

Double-digit growth rates of retail sales in 2017

The European market recorded a growth rate of almost 11 percent, which is the third time retail sales have had a double-digit growth rate since the financial crisis. Among the key markets, the highest growth was observed in France (18 percent). In the decade 2008-2017, the value of the European and European Union markets has more than doubled.

European consumers spend more on organic food

In Europe, consumers spent 47 euros on organic food per person annually (European Union: 67 euros). Per capita consumer spending on organic food has doubled in the last decade. The Swiss spent the most money on organic food (288 euros per capita in 2017).

Denmark has the highest organic market share in the world

Globally, European countries account for the highest shares of organic food sales as a percentage of their respective food markets. Denmark is the first country to surpass the ten percent mark and has the highest organic share (13.3 percent) worldwide. Individual products and product groups hold even higher shares. Organic eggs, for instance, reach around 30 percent of the value of all eggs sold in some countries.

The survey on organic farming in Europe was conducted by FiBL and AMI. The FiBL data collection was carried out under the framework of the global survey on organic farming supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Coop Sustainability Fund, NürnbergMesse, and IFOAM – Organics International.





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