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Organic farming in Europe 2007

Organic land and producers

At the end of 2007, 7.8 million hectares in Europe were managed organically by more than 200'000 farms. In the European Union, 7.2 million hectares were under organic management, with more than 180’000 organic farms. 1.9 percent of the European agricultural area and four percent of the agricultural area in the European Union is organic. Twenty-four percent of the world's organic land is in Europe.

The countries with the largest organic area are Italy (1'150'253 hectares), Spain (988'323 hectares) and Germany (865'336 hectares) (2007).

The highest percentages are in Liechtenstein (29 percent), Austria (13,4 percent) and Switzerland (11 percent).

Compared to 2006, organic land increased by more than 0.3 million hectares.

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The European market for organic food

Sales of organic products were approximately 16 billion Euros in 2007. The largest market for organic products in 2007 was Germany with a turnover of 5.3 billion Euros (2008: 5.8 billion Euros), followed by the UK (2.6 billion Euros), France and Italy (both 1.9 billion Euros).

As a portion of the total market share, the highest levels have been reached in Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, with around five percent for organic products.

The highest per capita spending is also in these countries.

Research

In order to boost organic farming research, the technology platform TP Organics joining the efforts of industry and civil society in defining organic research priorities and defending them vis-à-vis the policy-makers was launched in December 2008.

The platform’s vision paper reveals the potential of organic food production to mitigate some of the major global problems from climate change and food security, to the whole range of socio-economic challenges in the rural areas).

More information about European organic farming research is available at Organic-Europe.Net. 

Policy support

Support for organic farming in the European Union and the neighboring countries includes grants under rural development programs, legal protection and a European as well as national action plans.

One of the key instruments of the European Action Plan on organic food and farming, an information campaign, was launched during 2008, with the aim of increasing awareness of organic farming throughout the European Union.

Furthermore, most EU member states have national action plans (see action plan list at the homepage of the European project ORGAP; a complete list with quantitative targets is available in the 2009 edition of The World of Organic Agriculture.