Organic farming and the market for organic agricultural products are booming worldwide, including in France. However, enthusiasm remains very concentrated in Europe and the United States. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.
The organic market is booming, especially in France, and is expected to reach €100 billion worldwide, announced Michel Reynaud, vice-president of Ecocert, one of the world’s largest organic certification bodies. He gave this estimate at an international conference on organic farming on Tuesday (18 June).
In 2017, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (Ifoam) estimated the market being worth €90 billion, up from about €11 billion since 1999. The 2018 figures are expected.
While the market is growing, it is still very small on a global scale. By way of comparison, the world food market was estimated at $5 trillion in 2015 (McKinsey, 2015).
France tailing right behind Germany
The organic market is essentially Western, with Europe and the US the main consumers.
Even if the demand for organic food has appeared in China over the past five years, its organic food market is still questionable.
In 2017, €40 billion worth of organic products were purchased in the US and €37 billion in the EU. Germany leads the European market right ahead of France, with their organic food markets being worth €10 billion and €7.8 billion, respectively.
“However, the gap with Germany is narrowing, day by day. And we are confident that we can overtake them,” said Ecocert’s Michel Reynaud.
With regards to production, the EU is ahead of the US, with 2.9% of its useful agricultural area dedicated to organic farming, compared with only 0.9% across the Atlantic.
Reynaud explained this difference by pointing to the public conversion aids that exist in Europe, while American farmers are only able to rely on private programmes.
The difference in the number of farmers is telling, even if the farm sizes are very different. In the EU, there are 400,000 organic farmers, compared to “a few thousand in the US”.
Australia is a champion in organic farming
However, the real world champion in organic farming would be Australia. By itself, it accounts for more than half of the world’s surface area of organic land with 35.9 out 70 million hectares globally being cultivated there.
For comparison, France’s organic agricultural area is 29 million hectares, while its total area is 64 million hectares.
Reynaud cautioned, however, to be careful with such figures. Australian organic farm surfaces are essentially big natural grasslands and are therefore very large.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]