Autumn Special 2014

Launch of Organic Data Network

Author: Kai Kreuzer

A group of 30 researchers and stakeholders in the organic movement came together for the first meeting in Ancona/Italy on the 8 and 9 March. The participants representing 15 organisations from different parts of Europe laid the foundation for a three year project to harmonise and improve the collection of organic market data in Europe. Until now these data have either been totally inadequate in most countries or they are not really comparable because they have been based on differing ways of calculating the amount of organic sales in the sector. Six SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) are taking part in the project which is financed by the European Union. (Picture: The aim is clear: consistent organic data from 39 European states)

 

„We are very happy with the outcome and the productive discussions during our first meeting“, said Professor Zanoli, the project coordinator of the new EU project. Zanoli is a professor of agricultural economics at the Polytechnic University of Marche, a city with 120,000 inhabitants on the east coast of the “Italian boot” and the main harbour for ferries sailing to Greece. At the final round of the conference in a hotel overlooking the harbour all participants were also very satisfied with the excellent preparation of the first meeting and the smooth coordination by the Ancona group supporting the 50-year-old Zanoli (photo) at the University.

“The development of organic consumption in Europe is fundamental. Investing in the knowledge of the markets is crucial, and sharing experiences between European countries is useful. The Organic Data Network brings together experts from various backgrounds, which is an asset for the realisation of the project. ” Elisabeth Mercier from Agence Bio (Paris) was happy to declare. 

Present at the Ancona meeting was also Hans-Jörg Lutzeyer (picture), the project scientific officer at the European Commission and DG Research and Innovation. He was convinced: „The Organic Data Network will increase market transparency and lower the entry level of other SMEs to a fast growing market. Since the beginning of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union in 2008, preference has been given to integrating small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in order to allow them access to research and technology-oriented programmes of the EU which otherwise could not be reached by them.” (Picture: Mr. Lutzeyer recalling the successful OMIARD-Project, a forerunner of the current project about 10 years ago)

Besides the coordinator of the project, Professor Raffaele Zanoli, who started his „organic life“ in 1983 with the foundation of a consumers' cooperative and an organic shop in Ancona, there are four other institutions in the core group, which are mainly responsible for the development of the project: Dr. Matthias Stolze (picture on left) and Dr. Helga Willer from the renowned Swiss research institute FiBL, Professor Ulrich Hamm (picture below on right) and his team from the University of Kassel  (Germany),Dr. Susanne Padel and her colleagues (picture below on left) from the Organic Research CentreElm Farm, the UK's leading independent research institute for organic agriculture.

These four institutions, which all have many years of experience in compiling organic data and in organic research, represent the core of the project. In order to have an easier access to other countries and to include the practical experience of smaller partners, another 11 companies, universities and organisations are involved. Altogether the 15 participating partners come from 10 different countries.

"The project OrganicDataNetwork aims to meet the needs of policy makers and actors involved in organic markets by increasing the transparency of the European organic food market through better availability of market intelligence" stated Professor Zanoli.

"The network will co-operate closely with the European Commission, Eurostat, and statistical offices of the Member States, using existing structures for collecting and processing data on the organic market and stimulating the development of new ones by adapting existing models", says Dr. Susanne Padel from the Organic Research Centre. The partnership will act as a co-ordinating centre between stakeholders, and it will result in a proposal for the establishment of a permanent network to achieve collaboration on statistical issues regarding the organic market.

The following partners are taking part in the OrganicDataNetwork:

Polytechnic University of Marche Italy www.univpm.it/English/Engine/RAServePG.php
Researchcenter FiBl Switzerland www.fibl.ch
University of Kassel Germany www.uni-kassel.de/agrar/?c=21&language=en
Organic Research Centre United Kingdom  www.organicresearchcentre.com
Soil Association United Kingdom www.soilassociation.org
Czech University of Life Science Czech Republic  www.czu.cz/en
Agence Bio  France  www.agence-bio.com
Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari Italy  www.iamb.it/iamb2005/programmi/home.php?id=51&idarea=6 
Agrarmarkt Informations Gesellschaft  Germany  www.ami-informiert.de/ami-english.html 
Biocop Productos Biologicos S.A Spain   www.biocop.es 
Ecozept Germany and France  www.ecozept.com/en/index.htm 
Centre for Ecological Engineering  Estonia  www.ceet.ee
IFOAM EU Group  Belgium  www.ifoam-eu.org 
IMO-Control  Turkey  www.imo-control.org 
Organic-Market.Info  Germany www.organic-market.info 


The first aim is to create an inventory of all public and private bodies as well as stakeholders that are active in the field of collecting, processing and disseminating market data on organic agriculture. A survey questionnaire is currently being developed for distribution in electronic format to allow easy compilation of data. This will be completed in the next few weeks.

Joan Picazos from the Spanish manufacturer Biocop commented: “The organic trade in Europe is suffering from a lack of reliable data about the features and the evolution of the markets, and this is affecting specially the small companies, that often have to make decisions without enough information. The EU project OrganicDataNetwork is a brilliant initiative to fill this gap; its structure, bringing together universities, agencies and companies, assures its alignment with the real needs of the organic sector.” (Picture: the participants in the OrganicDataNetwork project in Ancona)


Goal 2015: Transparency in the European Market

The project, European Data Network for Improved Transparency of Organic Markets (OrganicDataNetwork) aims to increase the transparency of the European organic food market. This overall objective is broken down into key objectives:

1. Bring together stakeholders and bodies actively involved in the collection and publication of organic market data and review the needs of end-users with regard to organic market data

2. Provide an inventory of relevant private and public bodies that are involved in the collection, processing and dissemination of organic market data in Europe

3. Classify existing methods of organic market data collection and develop criteria for improving the quality of available data

4. Collect, store in a common format and provide access to currently available data on organic markets in Europe

5. Develop and test common methodologies to assess the consistency of national data, with special reference to available data on trade flows

6. Test innovative approaches to improve the data collection and market reporting in six case study regions

7. Disseminate project results and develop recommendations including a code of practice for collecting and networking organic market data beyond the conclusion of the project

(Source: Description of Work: data network for better European organic market information)


Tip:
www.organicdatanetwork.net

The OrganicDataProject on the internet:
www.organicresearchcentre.com
http://ec.europa.eu


(Picture: Initial meeting in Ancona in March 2012)

29.03.2012

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