Author: Kai Kreuzer
Organic products worth 59 billion US dollars landed in the shopping baskets of customers around the globe in 2010, according to Amarjit Sahota, Managing Director of London-based corporate consultant Organic Monitor. North America is still the biggest single market ahead of Europe. The organic sector in the USA enjoyed 8 % growth in 2010 compared with 1 % in the conventional food market (OTA, Organic Industry Survey 2011, USA). Organic sales thus reached 28.6 billion US dollars (21.6 billion euro). In the non-food segment, food supplements lead the ranking – up 7 % to 681 million US dollars. Organic fibres (cotton and linen) achieved sales of 605 million US dollars (+16 %) and body care 490 million US dollars (+7 %). (Picture: Whole Foods in Tampa, Florida)
“In Europe as a continent, the organic area grew strongly again in 2010 and is approaching 10 million ha: 9.7 million ha were farmed organically in 2010. This corresponds to 2 % of the whole farming area,” says Helga Willer from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland. The expert continues to rate the trend positively. In the EU as a political unit, almost 9 million ha or 5 % of the agricultural area were farmed organically. The organic area increased by half a million ha over 2009. European champion with the largest organic area is currently Spain with 1.5 million ha, followed by Italy (1.1 million ha), Germany (0.99 million ha) and France (0.85 million ha). The largest absolute increases in area are in France (170,000 ha) and Spain (125,000 ha), according to Willer.
Compared with the previous year, the estimated total sales of organic products in Germany in 2010 remained steady at 5.9 billion euro and thus just under 6 billion euro again (GfK, Nielsen, Biovista). Current figures for the first half of 2011 are cause for delight in the specialist trade, which increased sales of organic food by 8 %. This is shown by a random sample of over 10 % of organic food shops and organic supermarkets taken by German communication consultant Klaus Braun. The area of organic farming land in Germany has also grown continuously for some years with growth rates of around 5 % (2010: 4.6 %). 6 % of the total area is meanwhile farmed organically. Sector players want to continue to push organic agriculture at the political level and achieve a 20 % share of the area by 2020. 990,702 ha were farmed organically in Germany at the end of 2010, and this figure could be as high as 1 million ha in 2011. (Picture: Organic Supermarket Naturgut in Stuttgart)
France occupies second place in the European ranking of strong-selling organic markets and has considerable growth rates to show. Organic sales in 2010 were 3.4 billion euro and the market share of the whole French food market was 2 %. The convincing range of products offered by a variety of newly founded organic supermarkets is one of the main reasons for this boom. Market drivers are mainly the regional organic chains, retailers and the national networks Biocoop (picture) and Biomonde. The use of organic food in industrial catering (school canteens and refectories) has trebled from 2008 to 2010. The number of organic farms in France increased by 55 % to 20,604 in the same period, and 3 % of the agricultural area is currently farmed organically.
Belgium recorded 7,300 ha more in 2010 to reach a total of 48,700 ha of organic farming land. The organic market there grew by a spectacular 20 % to 421 million euro in the same year, according to information from the Belgian organic association Bioforum. Studies by market researcher GfK show an annual per head spending of 38 euros on organically produced food. This is because more and more new customers are delighted with organic products, spend more on average per shopping trip and go shopping more frequently. But as in many other countries too, 78 % of organic sales are attributed to a relatively small share of loyal customers – the heavy users. (picture: Organic supermarket Origin'O in Brussels Overijse)
Whats up in the Netherlands? Organic sales in Dutch supermarkets in the first half of 2011 were up 29 % over the comparable period of the previous year, with sales at 195 million euros, reports the organic federation Bionext. Growth in the specialist retail trade is reported as unchanged between five and ten per cent. The Organic Farming Development Task Force expects sales of 800 million euros for the organic sector this year. The sales growth charts are headed by dairy products with 44%, followed by meat products with 40 % and eggs with 36 %. Fruit and vegetables (including potatoes) increased by 26 %.
The market in the Netherlands grew by 13% in 2010, while sales rose to € 752 million (Bionext). The share of organic food on the total food market was 1.7 %. Almost every second euro spent on organic food went to Albert Hejn and other conventional supermarket chains (market share: 45 %). With an increase of 19 %, this sales channel is clearly ahead of the organic food retail trade, which recorded a growth of 4 %. Organic food retail has as a market share of 35 %. The catering sector saw a particularly strong growth (21 %). Canteens and cafeterias accounted for 12 %, and other marketing channels (eg direct marketing) for 8 % (an increase of 13 %).
No other country in Europe has more organic companies than Italy. There were 47,663 farmers, processors and traders in 2010. The organic area is currently 1.1 million ha (SINAB-Sistema d’Informazione Nazionale sull’Agricoltura Biologica, Italy). The Italian market for organic food is traditionally determined by the independent organic food retail trade, which grew from 700 to 800 million euros (+14 %) in 2010. Organic products in the conventional trade also grew from 450 to 500 million euro(+11 %). The most important organic food shops in Italy belong to EcorNaturasì, the largest chain with 88 organic supermarkets, two restaurants and a butchery. Their sales in 2010 rose by just under 20 % to 112 million euro. The out-of-home catering segments and other marketing channels like farm shops and weekly markets each accounted for 250 million euros. Whereas organic products worth 1.8 billion euros were sold on the domestic market, exports achieved another billion euro. The Italian organic sector thus increased by altogether 300 million euros (12 %) in 2010. (Picture: NaturaSi Rom)
Organic sector sales in Sweden were up 13 % from the equivalent of 793 million Euro to 897 million euros in 2010. The organic share of the total food market was 3.1 % (Ekoweb, Sweden). The industrial catering segment achieved 35 % growth, and the hotels and restaurants 13 % more. In the retail trade, especially the state-licensed Systembolaget shops with their range of alcoholic drinks expanded rapidly, with a rise in the number of organic articles from 120 to 199 and 41 % more sales.
Finland achieved an organic market share of 2 % in 2010 with sales of 80 million euros (Nielsen, Finland). Sales are expected to leap to 110 million euros in 2011, says Erkki Pöytäniemi from the export organization Organic Finland. The organic market leader among the Nordic countries is Denmark, where the 7% share of the national food market is more than three times as much as in Finland and twice as much as in Sweden.
After high double-digit growth from 2006–2008, the growth rate in Denmark in 2009 and 2010 was 6 % and 4 % respectively, reports the Danish association Organic Denmark. The retail trade enjoyed organic sales of 684 million euros in 2010. Added to this are 174 million euros for sales to the catering trade, via box schemes, farm shops and filling stations. Experts expect the organic sector to grow by 6 – 10 % in 2011.
Great Britain recorded organic sales of two billion EUR in 2010, which is 5.9 % down on the previous year (Organic Market Report of the British Soil Association). Reasons for the reduced demand are a smaller range of organic products on the shelves of the supermarkets and the uncertainty among the population due to the country’s economic situation.
Organic sales in Great Britain are traditionally heavily dependent on the conventional trade, where 72 % of organic products are sold. The retail organic food trade, which can sometimes mobilize its loyal customers better at times of crisis, is less strongly represented in Great Britain. Organic supermarkets, which push development in Germany, France and Italy, hardly exist in Britain. Nevertheless, the British Soil Association notices signs of positive development: sales of organic beef, baby food and eco-textiles have distinctly increased in 2011. The area farmed organically in Great Britain decreased by 0.6 % to just under 740,000 ha at the end of 2010, which corresponds to as much as 4.2 % of the agricultural area. (Picture: Shop with some organic products at St. Pancraz station in London)