With almost 2.5 million hectares, in 2020 France became the top country in agricultural surface area under ecological management, followed by Spain (2.4 million of hectares); Italy (2.1 million hectares) and Germany (1.7 million hectares). This may be deduced from the latest data from the statistical annual report ‘The world of ecological farming 2022’ by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), carried out with AMI and with the collaboration of the Swiss Secretary of State for Economic Affair (SECO), the Coop Sustainability Fund, NürnbergMesse and IFOAM – Organics International.
In view of the figures shown by the report, the European organic sector continues to go from strength to strength. According to the FiBL, the sector reached record figures in 2020, with a growth of 15% and €52,000 millions, the highest growth rate over the past decade. Organic crop land also continued to grow.
In 2020, the expanse of agricultural crops grown using the ecological system in Europe rose to 17.1 million hectares (14.9 million hectares in the European Union.)
More surface area
Organic agricultural land increased by over 0.7 million hectares in the European Union, which represents a rise of 5.3 percent. However, the growth was lower than occurred in the previous year. France reported 307,000 hectares more than in 2019; Italy had 102,000 hectares more with respect to the previous year and Germany increased its surface area by 88,000 hectares.
Liechtenstein, at the top in the world ranking
In 2020, organic agricultural land in Europe made up 3.4% of the total of farming land and 9.2% in the European Union. In Europe (and throughout the world), Liechtenstein had the highest organic participation share of all the crops lands (41.6%), followed by Austria, the country belonging to the European Union with the highest organic participation (26.5%). Fifteen European countries informed that at least 10 percent of their farm land is being cultivated using the ecological production system.
Operators: moderate growth
The number of farmers dedicated to ‘bio’ production in Europe rose to 420,000 producers and almost 350,000 if we limit ourselves to the European Union. Accordingly, Italy has the largest number of ecological producers, with a total of 71,590.
Regarding processing, the figure rose to 84,799 in Europe and over 78,000 in the European Union. Over 6,800 importers are accounted for in Europe and almost 5,800 in the European Union. Also under this heading, Italy should be mentioned, the country with the largest number of processors (almost 23,000), while Germany has the largest amount of importers (over 1,900).
€52,000 million in retail sales
The European Union represents the second single market for organic products on a global scale, after the United States (49,500 million euros).
In 2020, retail sales in Europe were valued at 52,000 million euros (44,800 million euros in the European Union). The largest market was Germany (14,990 million).
The European market reached a record growth rate of 14.9%, the highest over the last decade. Amongst the key markets, the largest growth was observed in Germany (22.3 percent). Additionally, in the period studied, the organic markets in many European countries showed a two-digit growth rate due to the pandemic, as people stayed at home and started to cook more often.
Health, the environment and climate change have become important topics and if this trend continues, production and processing must follow this rate in order to supply the growing demand. The European Union’s Farm to Fork strategy can support this development.
More expenditure in bio
In Europe, consumers spend 63.3€ on ecological foods per person, per year; a figure that increases considerably if we put the spotlight on the European Union, reaching €101.8. The expenditure per capita in organic foods has doubled over the past decade. In the year 2020, Swiss and Danish consumers spent most on organic foods with figures of €418 and €384 per capita, respectively.
Denmark has the highest organic market share in the world
Globally, European countries represent the highest percentages in organic food sales. Denmark heads the world ranking in organic food sales share, with 13.0% in 2020, followed by Austria with 11.3% and Switzerland with 10.3%.