17.02.2017 |

Organic is booming: 50.9 million hectares worldwide farmed organically

The organic market is booming (Photo: CC0)

Organic farming continues to rise across the globe. A total of 50.9 million hectares were farmed organically at the end of 2015, representing a growth of almost 6.5 million hectares compared to the previous year. These are the latest figures of the statistical yearbook “The World of Organic Agriculture” published by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM – Organics International. The study collects data on 179 countries reporting organic farming activities. Australia has the largest agricultural area farmed organically with 22.7 million hectares, followed by Argentina with 3.1 million hectares and the United States and Spain with both 2 million hectares. Around 12.7 million hectares or a quarter of organically farmed land is in Europe. The three countries with the largest share of organic farmland in the world are Liechtenstein (30.2%), Austria (21.3%) and Sweden (16.9%). But also Estonia, São Tomé e Príncipe, Switzerland, Latvia, the Falkland Islands, Italy and the Czech Republic rank among the countries with more than 10% of organic agricultural land.

According to the report, there were 2.4 million organic farmers in 2015. Around 35% of the world’s organic producers live in Asia, followed by Africa (30%) and Latin America (19%). As in previous years, the country with most organic producers was India (585,200), followed by Ethiopia (203,602) and Mexico (200,039). Consumer demand for organic products is also increasing across the globe. Global retail sales of organic food and drink reached 81.6 billion US dollars in 2015, up from 59.1 billion US dollars in 2010. The countries with the largest organic markets were the United States (35.9 billion euros), followed by Germany (8.6 billion euros), France (5.5 billion euros) and China (4.7 billion euros). The top buyers of organic food worldwide live in Switzerland. Swiss consumers spent 262 euros per person on organic products in 2015, 71 euros more than consumers in Denmark with 191 euros and people in Sweden with 177 euros.

FiBL said in a press release that it is encouraging to see that the area of organic farmland grew at a faster rate than it had in past years. However, the organic market still continues to grow faster than organic farmland. In Europe, the organic market increased by 13% in 2015, reaching almost 30 billion euros. “Organic production does not keep pace with demand,” said FiBL’s Matthias Stolze. “Countries should pursue a clear organic sector strategy [and] support shorter organic supply chains that provide environmental and social benefits,” he added. (ab)

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