Bulgaria’s economic growth over the last two years has been a significant driver of consumer demand for organic products. Urban and higher-income consumers increasingly perceive organic as more environmentally friendly and healthful, thereby making organic products more attractive to many urban ‘lifestyle’ consumers. The range of organic products on the Bulgarian market have also diversified, enabling more middle-income consumers to buy organic.
Bulgarian organic production has struggled in recent years due to challenges with certification oversight and shrinking subsidy payments for farmers. These factors have led to fewer organic stakeholders and a decline in the organic area.
Organic Farm Production
After years of consistent growth, Bulgarian organic agriculture began to face challenges in 2017, mostly due to regulatory and certification issues, as well as reduced subsidies and other issues related to domestic-support policies. Local processing capacity remains low and a severe labor shortage presents other challenges for the industry.
The number of organic operators (producers, processors, traders, etc.) as of late 2017 declined by six percent from the same period in 2016. The number of organic farms in 2017 decreased by seven percent from 2016. Organic farmers accounted for 7.1 percent of all farmers in 2016, down from 7.4 percent in 2015. Bulgaria also reported 20 percent fewer organic food processors.