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Spain: Huge increase on consumer organic spends

"We are living in a sweet moment. Finally, after 25 years, our work is being appreciated and the national consumption of organic products is on the rise. We are no longer just the pantry for Europe, but also for our own country," stated Álvaro Barrera, president of Ecovalia, the sector's main association, who does not hide his happiness about the development of consumer demand for bio food in Spain.

Up until now, we were the main producers of organic products in Europe, but domestic consumption was not significant; a situation that has now changed. In 2015, Spain reached the top ten of the world's bio markets, with 1.5 billion Euro of domestic turnover; 25 percent more than in 2014. This was the greatest increase recorded worldwide. In Europe, Spain is in seventh place, behind Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden.

A year earlier, in 2014, the first notable increase in domestic consumption had been recorded, with an 18% growth, from 1.018 billion to 1.203 billion.

The craze over organic products has not lost its intensity. The first reports from the Mapama reveal that the domestic consumption in 2016 oscillated between 1,650 and 1,700 million Euro. That is, in three years, Spanish consumers have increased their purchases by 700 million.

"At this rate of consumption growth, in two years our country will not be able to meet all the demand for organic products," assures Álvaro Baeza. According to the regulations, three years are needed for the conversion from conventional to organic agriculture. "In Spain, 1 percent of the agricultural area is converted annually. Regardless of how quickly these conversions are made, growers are unable to keep up with the market's rising demand, and this could eventually lead to the domestic market being undersupplied," he points out.

Consumption habits in Spain are changing, according to the head of Ecovalia, an association with 15,000 producers that controls 52 percent of the certified organic acreage. "Until now, they were consumed in Spain because of health issues, while in Europe the main motivation is environmental issues." This concept is also taking root in our country. Climate change is here, after all, and the switch from conventional agricultural production to organic can help," he affirms.

Although there is no data on per capita consumption in 2016, the Mapama notes that indicators of consumption trends point to a maintenance of growth, which rose by 24.6 percent between 2014 and 2015, to 32.27 Euro.

In the period from 2011 to 2015, consumer per capita spending on conventional foods and beverages fell by 2.1 percent, to € 2,133.5 per inhabitant per year, while spending on bio food increased by 56.6 percent.

Our country still has a lot of potential, because despite the increase in per capita spending, it is still very far from countries like Switzerland, with 262 Euro, Denmark (191 Euro) or Sweden (177 Euro).

The retail sector, including the big chains, has played a key role in this increase of organic consumption. According to provisional data from the Ministry, in 2016 the number of marketers of bio products grew by around 17 percent, while that of processors increased by 9 percent. The latter is considered "very positive" by the department led by Isabel García Tejerina, "since the processing in facilities based in our country makes it possible for the products' added value to remain in Spain."

Last year, Spain consolidated its position as the European leader in organic acreage with a 2.5 percent growth, reaching two million hectares.

Also, in 2015, the number of organic operators grew by 5 percent to 39,700, with increases in all categories. Of note are the 27 percent increase in the number of exporters and the 23 percent growth in that of importers.


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