The Flanders organic sector continued its growth in 2017, both in terms of production and consumption. The number of Flemish farms operating organic production increased from 430 to 468. The organic and conversion area in Flanders increased by 6% from 6,960 to 7,367 hectares and accounts for approximately 1.2% of the total Flemish agricultural area (620,380 hectares in 2016). The 35 largest organic companies own have almost half of the overall organic area.
Interest in training courses for the organic sector remains high, as is demand from companies for advice on conversion to organic farming. Government expenditure on the organic sector rose to more than €4 million in 2017, with the main focus being on subsidising organic farmers. Flemish government expenditure on bio-research is estimated at just over €700,000 euros in 2017.
EU-28 organic farming area
Consumer spending on organic products also shows good growth. Belgian households spent €632 million on organic products last year, while in Flanders alone total spending on organics increased by 6% to €284 million.
The market share of organic fresh products in Belgium is growing steadily. In 2017, spending on organics accounted for 3.2% of overall spending on fresh products (up from 3% in 2016). In Flanders too, the market share of organic fresh products is growing (2.4%). The number of buyers who buy a fresh organic product at least once a year is high (90%). The highest demographic for consumption of organics is singles (old and young), with organics accounting for 4.5% of their overall spending on fresh products. In absolute terms, wealthy families with children and wealthy pensioners are the largest group of organic buyers. The largest increase in organics consumption between 2008 and 2017 was found in well-off families with children and in the two-income families without children.
The supermarket remained the largest channel for organic purchases in 2017, followed by specialised stores. With a market share of 10%, hard discount remains a smaller player in the organics markets, but is nevertheless the strongest growing channel. Farm shops and farmers’ markets are the sales channels with the highest percentage of organic products in the assortment (20%).