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International organic market shows a stable growth

A rise significantly above 80 billion US-dollar in worldwide sales: according to the current assessment of industry experts, this could be the organic balance for 2015. Excellent news for the organic sector, which is recording a steady growth internationally. When its industry players gather in Nuremberg from 15 to 18 February 2017 for their annual global gathering at BIOFACH, the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food such notable sales figures as well as topics such as innovation and responsibility, will be the focus. Please find below a recent press release of NürnbergMesse, the organisers of BIOFACH

"The worldwide growth of the organic markets will lead to a clear breakthrough of the 80-billion-US-dollar mark in 2015," analyses Amarjit Sahota, founder and managing director of London Consulting Organic Monitor (GB). For 2014, worldwide sales of around 80 billion US-Dollars were determined. "In this, the US market, due to its above-average growth rate, accounts for an increasingly important share." Helga Willer, an expert of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture [Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)], in Frick (CH), is equally pleased with the positive growth figures. She notes a significant increase in organically cultivated area in Europe. "For organic farming worldwide, 2015 could go down in its history as a record-breaking year," says Willer. Organic farming figures are not yet available for all countries, but until the end of 2016 most countries will have released their numbers for 2015. "For the European Union, however, we can already say that the area has increased by more than in previous years - namely, by half a million hectares to nearly 11 million hectares, or by more than 5%," says a joyous Willer. Spain achieved a particularly significant growth rate, which is nearing the 2 million hectare mark. Italy’s organic-farming area has grown to just under 1.4 million hectares in 2015. And in Germany, equally, the area increased more significantly than in the past - growing by 4% to almost 1.1 million hectares.

TheUS provide strong impulses for worldwide growth

In the US, the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Washington, is extraordinarily satisfied with the trend and sales achieved in 2015. According to the publication "Organic Industry Survey," sales reached an all-time high of nearly $ 40 billion ($ 39.7 billion). This year alone, an 11% plus, as well as the largest increase to date of $ 4.2 billion, was achieved. The foremost driver of growth is the fresh-food segment, where sales have increased to $ 13 billion, accounting for 36% of the entire US organic market. In the US, the market share of organic fruits and vegetables is now at 13%. Sales have even doubled for processed, vegetarian convenience products (+107%). The majority of organic fruits and vegetables were sold via "traditional" supermarket chains ($ 5.7 billion), followed by specialist shops, and whole-foods stores ($ 4.7 billion), as well as direct marketing ($ 2.7billion) via weekly farmers markets, producer-and-consumer communities, and online shops. For bananas alone, sales increased by 33% to $ 165 million, a considerable increase. OTA’s managing director, Laura Batcha, commented: "The available data indicate that organic-foods customers are extremely health-conscious when purchasing fruits and vegetables. Organic products are their first choice here because of the assurance that, with this choice, toxic and persistent pesticides can be avoided." The non-food sector with organic textiles, detergent and cleaning agents and cosmetics has grown by 13% to $ 3.6 billion. Both product groups — food and non-food - combined achieved a total of $ 43.3 billion in sales, corresponding to 39.6 billion euros, until year-end 2015.

Germany: strong sector in the European organic industry

A double-digit market growth is not only a source of joy for the German Organic Food Industry Association [Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft, BÖLW)], the umbrella organization of the German organic food associations and patron of the industry’s foremost event, but - as the numbers were announced on the occasion of BIOFACH 2016 - for the entire German organic industry. The previous year (2015) saw an increase in sales of 11.1% and a total market share of 8.62 billion euros (2014: 7.76 billion euros) for organic food and beverages. This is the result of calculations by the “Organic Market” working group of Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI), Berlin (D) together with seven partners from the field of science and from consultancy organisations. The strongest increase in sales of organic food products and beverages was seen in the food retail trade. With a growth rate of 13.2%, sales increased to 4.76 billion euros. The organic food trade also had an above-average growth over previous years with sales reaching 2.71 billion euros, corresponding to a growth rate of 10%. Overproportionate growth was also seen in other distribution channels in 2015, e.g. in health food shops, bakeries and mail order businesses. Also the traditional food retail trade is continuously expanding its market position: 55% of sales of organic products were generated by the food retail trade, 31% by the natural food trade, and 13% by other distribution channels.

France: Robust market development

In 2015, organically cultivated farmland in France increased more than initially expected. According to current information from Agence Bio, Montreuil (F), it increased by almost 23% to roughly 1.4 million hectares, i.e. 5.1% of the total land used for agriculture. For the current year, the agency is expecting this share to grow by another 8% and for 2017, a 20% growth rate is even expected.

The organic market in France has shown a very stable growth for many years. The total sales of the organic food industry today amount to 5.5 billion euros. This is a growth by 10% over 2014. The number of participants working in the organic food sector, from organic farmers to food processors and wholesalers, has grown to now 42,216, corresponding to a growth rate of 7.2%.

Switzerland: Organically produced foods on the rise despite a difficult environment

For a long time, Switzerland and Denmark have been the top consumers of organic food products. Together with Denmark, Switzerland holds 7.7% of the market share in the ranking of the European countries. The number of organic farmers increased to 6,000 in 2015, with an organically farmed area of 137,000 hectares. With sales of 2.1 billion euros, the organic market volume also grew by 5% over the previous year. Today, 12.8% of the farmland in the Swiss Confederation is organically farmed.

The trend towards conversion to organic farming is continuing, also in 2016. 227 new businesses have registered with Bio Suisse so far. According to Jürg Schenkel, head of marketing with the Swiss federation of organic farmers, Bio Suisse, Basel (CH), fresh products remain the most important segment with sales worth 1 billion euros. With a growth of 10% to 1 billion euros, the segment according to Mr Schenkel has now reached a two-digit market share. Still, eggs and bread remain the favourite individual products, with remarkable market shares of 24% and 20% of the total consumption. This is followed by vegetables, ranking third with a market share of 18%. With a per capita expenditure of 259 euros, Switzerland is the worldwide leader.

Italy: Export heavyweight

According to estimates by the industry association AssoBio, Bologna (IT), sales of organic products amounted to 4.2 billion euros in 2015. As the country is an important European supplier and producer of a broad range of fresh vegetables, pasta, olive oil and a number of processed food products, it is no wonder that almost one third of this amount - 1.5 billion euros - was attributable to exports. According to estimates by the industry association, sales in the natural food trade of 860 million euros were almost equal to those generated in the retail food trade (872 million euros). With sales of 238million euros, direct marketing in the form of delivery services and stands at farmer’s markets also constitutes a market-relevant channel. However, there is no official collection of data for the organic sector in Italy.

According to information by the marketing research firm Nielsen, sales of organic products as registered by till scanners in supermarkets and department stores increased by 20% in 2015 to 872 million euros, which is significantly above the two previous years with a growth rate of 12% (2014) and 11% (2013). As a result of the increase in sales in all sectors of the Italian organic food products sector, the industry was able to provide significantly more jobs. AssoBio assumes the increase in the number of jobs to be 17%. This means that 184,000 people are working in this sector, including those involved in organic farming.

UK: Back on the growth path

After several years of stagnation and shrinking of the organic foods market in the UK, the country is back on the growth path. A growth rate of 4.9% was recorded in 2015 with sales of 1.95 billion Pounds Sterling (2.6 billion euros). Sales through supermarkets increased by 3.2%. Natural food stores reached a growth rate of 7.5%, delivery services and online businesses even 9.1%. A veritable boom was seen in the catering sector with plus 15.2%. The health and beauty sector grew by one fifth (21.6%) to 54 million Pounds Sterling (62.3 million euros). Despite these success reports, there is still room for growth because the expenditure share for organic products in the total expenditure for food is only 1.4%, as compared to Germany, France and Italy with 3-4%.

About BIOFACH World:

NürnbergMesse has proven expertise in the area of organic food. The international organic industry meets every year in Nuremberg at BIOFACH, the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food. BIOFACH World is represented across the globe by five other BIOFACH events in Japan, the United States, South America, China and India, and brings over 3,000 exhibitors and 100,000 trade visitors together year after year.

Source: Media release by NürnbergMesse of October 28, 2016: International organic market shows a stable growth

Further information


Helga Willer

Presentation at BIOFACH

The latest data and the 2017 edition of FiBL's statistical yearbook "The World of Organic Agriculture" will be launched at Biofach in Nurembrrg on February 15, 2017.