200 market experts, coordinators, traders and producers discussed the current situation and possible consequences at the "Third Bio-Fachforum Gemüse und Kartoffeln" in Visselhövede.
Sales of organic vegetables in the food trade have been growing for years. In the first three quarters of 2018, however, there were declines, both for organic vegetables and for organic potatoes. Households consumed 5.2% less organic vegetables than in the same period last year. Although sales of organic potatoes increased by 2.8% in the three quarters of 2018, revenues fell by 9.1%.
Dr. Hans-Christoph Behr of the Agricultural Market Information Society (AMI), point to the weather-related bad harvests as the main reason for this. Many organic vegetable growers, especially in the north, have underperformed in quantity and quality. For organic potatoes, the yields are in the "normal range", but quality left much to be desired. For the producers, said Behr, this means that prices are high and will remain stable.
The organic vegetable cultivation areas in Germany have grown by 1,050 ha to 13,700 ha from 2016 to 2017. The largest organic cultivated areas in Germany are for carrots, 2,100 ha, peas, asparagus, pumpkin (each 1,300 ha) and then 900 ha for onions. The order of the top organic vegetable crops is also reflected in the Lower Saxony cultivated areas in 2018: organic carrots, 410 ha; organic onions, 190 ha; organic outdoor fruit vegetables 170 ha; organic beetroot 170 ha; organic asparagus 150 ha and then 140 ha of organic cabbage. With around 1,870 ha of vegetable cultivation, Lower Saxony ranks third among the German organic vegetable growing states.
German organic carrots sold out for Christmas
Johannes Blum from "Brocker-Möhren" expects that German organic carrots will be fully sold out by the end of this year. In other years, they were available until February. The lower yields and weather-related lower storage performance of the 2018 harvest will continue to lead to fixed prices. In view of the high share of imports, he sees good sales opportunities for farmers, if they have suitable fields.
Every second onion is imported
For trader Reinhard Meyer from ÖkoKontor Uelzen, the organic onion harvest 2018 is "acceptable". The big producers in Lower Saxony have irrigation systems. If you talk about onions, you always have to keep an eye on the Netherlands, said Meyer. Due to modern production and storage technology, Dutch onion growers can produce cheaply and will offer goods until June. The price of organic onions will remain high and in the case of organic onions, a broad and year-round supply is lacking.
Not enough 'organic' in preserves
The organic share of frozen vegetables, at 8.3%, is getting closer to the organic share of fresh vegetables, 9.8%. There is a need to catch up in canned foods, which also includes raw food salads. Here, organic only has a share of 2.7%.
Organic potatoes grow on 3.6% of the German potato area
The most important potato area is Lower Saxony, with 2,400 ha. Every fourth organic potato is grown in Lower Saxony. From 2017 to 2018, 65 ha of organic potatoes have been added. Reinhard Meyer from ÖkoKontor said that it would be a challenge to integrate more organic potatoes, which will come onto the market two to three years after the conversion to A-commodity, at the "Bio-Fachforum". The problem in 2018 is the poor storability of the potatoes due to the heat stress suffered. Experts expect about a loss of 30%.
The "Organic Expert Forum on Vegetables and Potatoes" has been organized for three years by the Competence Center Organic Farming Lower Saxony (KÖN). The next event is scheduled for the beginning of November 2019.