Organic farming in EU: a fast growing sector (IT)


The EU Commission has published two reports on organic farming and imports of organic products in the EU. The documents show that, between 2010 and 2017, there was a sharp increase in the agricultural area dedicated to organic farming, and the role of the import of organic products also increased considerably.

The total amount of the EU agricultural area dedicated to organic production reached 7% in 2017, with an increase of 70% compared to 2009. This reflects the size of the Union market, which has seen the retail sales of organic products reach 34.3 billion euros in 2017.

Overall, in 2016 there were almost 250,000 organic farms in the EU, with a tendency to increase, and the new operators entered the system between 2010 and 2017 were 14,000, although this number was partly neutralized by 10,000 formerly organic operators who went back to conventional farming. The main reasons for these returns were the production constraints or the years of bad harvests.

As regards imports of organic food into the EU, this activity reached a total quantity of 3.4 million tons in 2018, with China being the main supplier with over 415,000 tons of products supplied to the European market, equal to 12.7 % of the total market. Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine and Turkey also had significant market shares. Among the main goods imported tropical fruit and nuts, cereals and oilseed oil cake.

Imports are an important part of the organic products market and increase consumers' choices. This is partly due to the fact that they often supply goods that cannot be produced in the EU or occupy temporary market gaps in the EU. The report indicates that these gaps could be more difficult to fill for organic production since the 3-year conversion period increases the time interval between the increase in demand and the possibility of EU suppliers of being able to increase their own production.

The market for organic products is then highlighted in the report as not yet mature, and indicates that its growth has a strong potential. In order to satisfy the continuous increase in demand, growth in both domestic production and the volume of imports entering the European market is expected.

Organic farming in the EU - A fast growing sector

Organic imports in the EU - A first analysis

Source: EU Commission