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Spanish organic market has grown by 15% since 2014

Spain already has over two million hectares of organic crops, with almost 40,000 operators. It has thus managed to become one of the world's top ten markets for this type of foods.

Ecosecha, devoted to the cultivation of yellow, pear, cherry or salad tomatoes, and El Colletero, which is getting ready for an autumn with plenty of cabbages of many types, are two of the 39,744 operators devoted to organic agriculture in Spain, according to the latest figures for 2016 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment (Mapama). We are talking about a type of production that is regional based, carried out in a cooperative regime, with respect for the natural crop cycles, with traditional varieties and without the use of synthetic chemicals.

Andalusia dominates both in the field of operators (13,495) and in terms of acreage, accounting for half of the two million hectares in the country. The acreage is actually growing every year. Mapama data indicate that in 2016 it grew by 2.5% compared to 2015, reaching 2,019,000 hectares. "Half goes to permanent pastures, one-quarter to arable land crops and the other quarter to permanent crops," reports the Ministry.

Growing crops and industries
The most noteworthy increases in the number of hectares have been recorded by cereals, tubers, vegetables, fruit trees, nuts, citrus fruits and vineyards. There is also growth in the livestock sector.

Just as the use of synthetic fertilizers and phytosanitary chemicals have been banished from organic agriculture, the same happens with antibiotics, growth hormones and overcrowding in organic farming. Although this does not prevent cases of cross-contamination and even malpractice, the most-publicised cases of food crises in recent years have always been linked to intensive livestock farming practices.

In order to keep bad practices under control, at least one annual visit is made to the different operators. The number of official controls carried out in 2016 was 46,632 and irregularities or infractions were found to affect 942 operators, 2% of the total.

25% more market share since 2014
In 2016, there was a 5.3% increase in the number of operators, but especially noteworthy is the 27% growth in the number of exporters, which suits the Spanish profile of being a country with a great focus on cultivation and export than on consumption. However, this is changing progressively. Ecovalia, an association devoted to the sector's promotion in the country, announced that "our organic market has grown by 25% since 2014, the highest percentage worldwide."

Ecovalia got these figures from the annual report of the Institute for Agricultural Research, known by its initials in German: FiBL. It is also worth noting that "Spain has joined the list of the top ten countries with the largest organic market, which is currently worth about 1.5 billion Euro." Of the $ 75 billion that are generated globally, the United States accounts for 36 billion, followed by Germany, undisputed leader in Europe with 8.5 billion of the 30 billion generated on the continent.

The demand in Spain has grown because of the increase in marketing possibilities. The focus on regional products has helped overcome one of the sector's traditional stumbling blocks: having more expensive products than the conventional market. The hundreds of consumption groups and cooperatives created in Spain have made it possible for many vegetables, meats and even processed foods to reach the consumer directly, thus reducing the logistics costs, because they have been produced just a few tens of kilometres away.

Publication date: 9/13/2017


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