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Organic agriculture booming in Europe

Between countries in the South that have the largest organic acreage, the North that has the most consumers, and pressure from large retailers, European organic agriculture is booming at the moment. 

According to recent European statistics from 2015, European organic consumption is estimated to reach €28.3 billion. 70% of this figure is in four countries alone (Germany, France, Italy and the UK) However, Denmark, Austria and Sweden have the most organic products in their shopping baskets (8.4%, 8% and 7.7% respectively). Germany is Europe’s leading organic market and has quadrupled in 15 years reaching €8.62 billion in turnover in 2015, i.e. 5% of all food consumed in the country. However, organic consumption is growing faster than production. German organic acreage was overtaken by France in 2015 and they are having to import more and more. 80% of Germany’s organic tomatoes and 90% of their peppers come from Spain and Italy. Sweden has the most active organic market in Europe, with a 38% increase in 2014 and 39% increase in 2015 reaching €2.3 billion. 

According to Eurostat, over five years, organic agricultural acreage in Europe has increased by 21% to 11.1 million hectares in 2015 compared to 9 million in 2010. All of the 28 countries in the EU have have seen an increase, apart from the UK (495,929 hectares of organic, -29% compared to 2010) and Holland (44,402 hectares of organic, -4%). In 2015 just four countries represented over half (53%) of European organic acreage : Spain was the largest with 1.96 million hectares (+21.9% compared to 2010), Italy (1.5 million hectares, +34%), France (1.36 million hectares, +61%) and Germany (1.06 million hectares, +7%). Poland came in fifth place with just under 600,000 hectares in 2015 (+11%) but is seen as having a big potential in the organic sector. 

In 2015, organic acreage only represented 6.2% of agricultural land in Europe. According to Eurostat, Northern countries such as Austria, Sweden and Estonia are proportionally the greenest with over 15% of their agricultural land dedicated to organic farming in 2015, or converting to organic. These were followed by the Czech Republic, Latvia and Italy with over 10% of their agricultural land being organic (5.7% for France in 2015, 5.8% in 2016). 

Poland is in the lead in terms of organic vegetable acreage with 41,819 hectares, Italy follows with 29.487 hectares and France with 16,832 hectares. Poland is notably Europe’s leading organic strawberry producer with 2,900 hectares in 2015. 

Italy is in the lead in the Mediterranean for organic citrus fruits (oranges and lemons) with 31,869 hectares in 2015 out of the 42,000 hectares farmed in the EU. Spain follows with 8,245 hectares whilst Greece is in crisis and has seen acreage plummet from 1,909 hectares in 2010 to 1,295 hectares 2015. 

Greece has also seen their organic olive production decrease, from 56,970 hectares in 2010 to 47,605 hectares in 2015. However, Spain comes in first place with acreage increasing from 126,000 hectares in 2010 to 197,000. Italy follows with acreage reaching 180,000 hectares compared to 140,700 in 2010. 

Publication date: 8/9/2017


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