Organic, global growth

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Organic continues its global growth. Figures released at Biofach 2018, the international trade fair for the industry, show the evolution of the sector, which now achieves a total turnover of about 80 billion euros, with prospects for further progress. Indeed, both consumption and dedicated agricultural areas are increasing. Italy is a leading player in Europe, with the highest rate of land conversion to organic (+300 thousand hectares in 2016), to which 14.5 percent of agricultural land is now dedicated.

Organic, global growth

The most vibrant growth is recorded in northern markets, in America as well as in Europe. Organic accounts for 5 percent of the food market in the U.S. today, with sales of US$ 43 billion (OTA data,


Organic Trade Association




).

In the old continent organic continues to grow by double digits in France (+20 percent) and Germany (+10). Slightly more slight growth in England (+7%), perhaps also due to Brexit, and in Sweden (+7%, after exploits of +30-40% recorded in the last 4 years, to reach a turnover of € 2.6 billion).

Modern distribution drives the success of organic, not only in Italy (see next section) but also in countries where organic food consumption is well established. In Germany-where the sector has a turnover of 9.48 billion and an average growth of 9.9 percent-wholesale in large-scale retail sales rose 14.6 percent. In Austria, a historical producer and consumer of organic food, as much as 75 percent of the 1.6 billion euros in sales transits through the large-scale retail trade.

Italy, large-scale retail sector drives organic growth

In Italy, organic continues to grow in double digits, +14% in value in 2016. The credit goes to firstly to retail (+16%) undisputed protagonist thanks to the democratization of organic on private label products (MDD, o private label).

Also significant was the increase in turnover of producer-retailers (markets, direct sales including through home deliveries, +13%). Conversely, far more sluggish (+3.5 percent) was the pace of ‘organic goldsmiths,’ the specialty stores within the reach of a few.

Total organic food sales in Italy in 2016-including supplies to restaurants and caterers-are estimated at 3 billion euros (Nielsen and AssoBio data).

More pesticide-free soils

Farms and land devoted to organic farming are increasing in Italy. Pesticides, no thanks. In 2016, another 300 thousand hectares were converted to organic, with particular dynamism in the South, in Sicily, Apulia and Calabria. Organic vegetable crops increased by 49 percent, cereal crops by 32, and olive groves and vineyards by 23 percent. Of the 72,154 businesses selling or producing organic products, nearly 56,000 are farms.

Following in Italy’s footsteps, several other countries stand out in converting land to organic farming. Bulgaria (+35 percent), Croatia (+23 percent) and Cyprus (+18 percent) contribute to the expansion of organic crops in Europe, which globally are estimated to have increased by 5 million hectares in 2016 (FiBL data).

Bucking the trend are Greece, Poland and Romania, where pesticide blowback has affected about 130,000 hectares. An exception that confirms the rule, fortunately.

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