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Germany-France Lead Organic Food Growth in Europe

14 March 2014


The USA is the world largest organic food market and was valued in 2012 at $29 billion US dollars, writes Lorcan Bourke from the Horticulture Division of Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board.

However, the European organic food market is the second-most important global market and was valued at €22.7 billion in 2012.

The picture around Europe is one of some countries growing well, while some markets being static or even in decline (mostly those affected by economic recession).

Within Europe, Germany is by far the largest organic food market (with retail sales of €7.04 billion) and had a growth rate of six per cent while the French market (with retail sales of €4 billion) was the other big growth performer.

Some countries--like Denmark, Ireland and Sweden--showed static sales in this period, while other countries showing strong growth were Finland (+24 per cent), Norway (+17.3 per cent) and the Netherlands (+14 per cent).

In contrast, retail sales of organic food in the UK (valued at €1.95 billion) decreased by -1.5 per cent in 2012, but the latest figures emerging from the UK recently reported modest growth for the first time since the recession took hold.

The highest spending per capita consumption countries on organic food across Europe in 2012 included Switzerland (€189), Denmark (€159), Luxembourg (€143), Austria (€127), Sweden (€95), and Germany (€64).

In the first half of 2013, the amount of land devoted to organic agriculture in France reached over 1 million hectares, according to a recent report from the French Organic agency.

Now, the number of organic food producers reached over 25,000, according to Finnian O’Luasa from the Paris Office of Bord Bia.

This increase in production is in tandem with consumer demand that reached more than €4 billion in 2012, which is double the 2007 figure and an increase of 6.6 per cent compared to 2011.

The French organic food market represented 2.4 per cent of the overall food market in 2012 compared to 1.3 per cent in 2007.

The market share is most important for eggs (15 per cent) and milk (nine per cent).

The main three motivations for French consumers to buy organic products are to maintain good health, to preserve food taste and quality and to protect the environment.

The organic food sector has already gained strong focus with traditional supermarkets.

The top three leading specialised organic retail groups in France are Biocoop, Biomonde, and La Vie Claire.

Specialised organic retail groups represented 27 per ent of organic food sales in 2012, whereas traditional Supermarkets and Hypermarkets represented 47 per cent.

The remaining share was sold either direct from the producer or through artisan outlets.

The fastest growing organic food categories in France in 2012 are beverages, seafood and fruit and veg.

Irish organic mussels were the first mussels to have achieved organic status in Europe and are gaining reputation in France.

Mussels have very high nutritional values due, in particular, to the presence of important minerals necessary for brain development.

Irish organic mussels and salmon are grown in coastal areas void of heavy industry and in respect of the environment and biodiversity.

These coastal zones therefore have exceptionally low levels of persistent contaminants, as testified by tests carried out by the Irish Marine Institute.

Sales of Organic Food in France in Millions of Euros
  2011 2012 Change
Meat 446 466 4%
Seafood 60 64 7%
Dairy & Eggs 807 822 2%
Deli, Frozen & Grocery 958 1024 7%
Drinks 551 626 14%
Bakery 336 341 1%
Fruit & Vegetables 597 661 11%
  3,755 4,004 6.6%


french organic chart

March 2013

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