According to data from FiBL studies, published in its The World of Organic Agriculture yearbook, there were almost 70 million hectares of organic agricultural land in the world just 3 years ago. Of them 14.6 million hectares were in Europe. In 2017, according to the same study, the global market reached €92 billion, with North America at the top followed by Europe. The market and the data have already changed since then – updated data, provided by the new FiBL study, will be presented at BIOFACH in February 2020 – but organic will surely continue its unstoppable growth trend. It is inevitable. The market, consumers and the planet are asking for it.
The specialized organic market in Europe is experiencing a time of rapid changes. The conventional sector and large-scale distributors have made a strong entry into the market, monopolizing market share and forcing the specialized sector to professionalize and continue improving crosswise, from logistics to communication, in order to remain on the game board.
The specialized organic market in Europe is experiencing a time of rapid changes
In Spain we are now experiencing these changes first-hand, perhaps later and with less prior preparation than other European countries. As Pedro López comments: “The history of the organic sector in Spain is that of an unbalanced growth. High foreign but low domestic demand led to a strong development of primary production and a slow evolution of the industry and of the distribution and sales channel, which until recently maintained a comfortable status quo, with minimal industrial, logistics and sales structure”. But I think this can be good, at least in a way: we need organic to be a mass phenomenon: it’s compulsory for the Planet, for the health of our soils and farmers and for our own as consumers. We have to boost the organic sector as much as we can because this is the best for the society: it’s common goods. Individuals and institutions need to know that a strong organic sector is needed to face our challenges (and take action!).
The experience of northern European countries, for example Denmark, is encouraging as operators and distribution channels from the consumer goods sector are becoming good allies of the organic sector: they are endorsing products without reducing their quality, and they are promoting the consumption of organic products among new and broader targets that were so far unreachable. Therefore we can say that they are using their greater resources for a good cause. It is not clear what role the consumer goods sector and the specialized channel will end up playing in Southern Europe -Spain, Portugal or Italy-, as the process is still ongoing in these countries.
2020-2030 will be the decade in which ‘ORGANIC’ will conquer more and more supermarket shelves
Despite this, how the balance of power and market share between the different channels will evolve is still a mystery throughout Europe. From the traditional strong market German model to the “new” French model -France is currently the European country with the fastest organic growth-, or from the well-established strong consumption shown by Austria or Denmark, to emerging Eastern countries led by Poland, 2020-2030 will undoubtedly be a decade of changes but, above all, it will be the decade in which ‘ORGANIC’ will conquer more and more supermarket shelves. The sector will grow: how and where is still uncertain, but the most important aspect for citizens, the planet and the sector as a whole is that growth is sustainable and at the same time fast enough to help us to solve the environmental and food problems and challenges we must face urgently.
Author: Oriol Urrutia, BIOECO Actual, 11 February2020