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European organic market grows by double digits in 2015

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For organic farming worldwide, 2015 could go down in its history as a record-breaking year. Also the organic markets in Europe showed a very good performance. Almost all the major markets enjoyed double-digit growth rates. The European organic market increased by 13% and nearly reached 30 billion euros, the memberstates of the European Union reached 27.1 billion Euros. At BioFach the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL (Switzerland) and the Agricultural Market Information Company AMI (Germany) presented the 2015 data of the European organic sector.

Worldwide organic retail sales 2016 by country

Graphic © FiBL, AMI: Worldwide organic retail sales 2016 by country.

First-time double-digit growth again

Helga Willer, an expert on statistics at FiBL, is delighted with the positive growth figures: "The great dynamism of the European organic market is reflected in strong growth in 2015, which was again double-digit with a total of 13% for the first time since the financial crisis (2008) Diana Schaack from the AMI said: "Many products and product groupseven  reach much higher proportions." In Switzerland, for example, every fourth sold egg is an organic egg, and the portion of For Helga Willer, the significant increase in ecologically managed areas in Europe is record-breaking: "For organic farming, 2015 could become a record year in its history."

European retail sales of organic products 2015

Infographic © FiBL, AMI: Organic retail sales in Europe 2015

Organic market grows faster than organic farmland

The trend of the market growing faster than organic farmland continued in 2015. However, it is encouraging that the area of organic farmland grew at a faster rate than it had in past years: it increased by almost one million hectares or by 8.2%. At the end of 2015, 12.7 million hectares were under organic management in Europe (in the European Union, 11.2 million hectares). This constitutes 2.5% ‑ 6.2% respectively ‑ of the total agricultural land. The countries with the largest organic farmland areas are Spain (1.97 million hectares), Italy (1.49 million hectares) and France (1.37 million hectares). In each of these three countries, the area of organic farmland increased by at least 100’000 hectares. Nine European countries report that at least 10 % of their farmland is organic and the highest organic shares worldwide are in Liechtenstein (30.2 %), Austria (21.3 %) and Sweden (16.9 %).

Organic farmland in Europe and the EU memberstates

Infographic © FiBL: Organic farmland in Europe and the EU memberstates

Bio-processors and bio-importers also record double-digit growth rates

In Europe, almost 350,000 agricultural enterprises operated biologically (European Union: 270,000). In 2015 the FiBL statistics counted some 60,000 organic processors and nearly 3,700 organic importers. While growth in agricultural enterprises was modest at 3 per cent (European Union: 5%), the processors increased by 12   per cent and importers by as much as 19   per cent.

Matthias Stolze from FiBL concludes: "The fact that the growth of importers and processors is much stronger than that of farms is another sign that the dynamism of production does not keep pace with that of the market. It is therefore important that the bio sector and agricultural policy work to optimize the market and the political environment.

The yearbook: “The World of Organic Agriculture“, can be obtained at BIOFACH at the FiBL stand in Hall 1 (stand 555). The book includes a detailed chapter about organic in Europe, with many tables and graphs.

Data can be explored through online interactive infographics available on IFOAM EU’s website or by visiting IFOAM EU at BIOFACH Hall 1, stand 447.

The survey on organic farming in Europe was conducted by FiBL and AMI. The FiBL data collection activities were carried out under the framework of the global survey on organic farming supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the International Trade Centre and NürnbergMesse.





BioFach / Vivaness

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