The COVID-19 pandemic boosted organic food sales in the EU, enabling it to overtake the U.S. market in 2021. However, spiraling inflation combined with high food and energy prices will likely reduce organic food sales in most EU markets in 2022. Despite this, there continues to be good prospects for U.S. organic product exports to the EU. Trade shows like BioFach, the world’s largest organic trade fair, provide an excellent gateway for U.S. companies to establish contact with business partners.
The EU Organic Agricultural Market and Production
The United States and the EU are the world’s largest organic markets. Both have shown tremendous growth rates in the last few years, with the United States becoming the leading global organic food market in 2012. In 2021, the EU retook the top position as growth rates in its member states were more dynamic than the development in the United States. FAS offices in the EU estimate that the EU market totaled $58.6 billion in 2021, with a strong 12 percent increase over the previous year. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), organic food sales in the United States increased by a moderate 2 percent to $57.5 billion in 2021.
Most organic markets in the EU demonstrated growth in 2021. Countries like Germany, France, Hungary, Austria, Ireland, Greece, Romania, and Slovakia showed double-digit growth rates. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to be an important driver, further boosting organic sales in these countries. Starting in 2020, consumers changed their food purchasing and consumption habits during periods of “lockdown” when restaurants were closed and home cooking became the norm.
The trend is not expected to last in 2022. High inflation rates across Europe, fueled by increasing food and energy prices, caused many consumers to save money by buying cheaper food products. FAS posts in the EU estimate that organic food sales might decrease by about 5 percent in 2022. Together with the currency effects of the weaker Euro, the EU organic food market could decrease to $50 billion in 2022.
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