Between 2010-17 there was a dramatic increase in the amount of EU agricultural land dedicated to organic farming whilst imports also fulfil an important role, notes the market briefs on organic farming in the EU and on organic imports.
At global level in 2017, 69.8 million ha were farmed organically (including area in conversion towards organic). The EU reached 12.6 million ha in 2017, which represents 18 % of the global organic area and 7 % of total EU agricultural land. The impressive growth of organic production by 70 % over the past ten years reflects the importance gained by the sector. This reflects the size of the EU market, with almost €34.3 billion in retail sales of organic products in 2017. This growing domestic consumption is complimented by a robust import sector, with demand for organic tropical fruits and nuts proving particularly significant.
In total, there had been 14,000 new entrants to the organic sector between 2010 and 2017, though this was partially counteracted by 10,000 previously organic operators returning to conventional farming. The primary catalysts for this return to non-organic farming include production constraints or bad crop years.
Imports to the EU of organic food totalled 3.4 million tonnes in 2018, with the biggest supplier being China with more than 415,000 tonnes of producing supplied to the European market, making up 12.7% of the total market. However, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine and Turkey all had significant market shares. The primary goods imported were tropical fruit and nuts, cereals and oil cakes.
Organic does not appear to take off as quickly in further food products, such as beverages (excluding wine) and meat. However, with regard to organic meat, despite a relatively low market share in most EU countries, retail sales indicate a high growth, up to 12 % in Italy and 13 % in the UK.
Thursday March 7, 2019/ DG Agriculture and Rural Development/ European Union.