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Country report - Iceland

by Gunnar Á Gunnarsson, Vottunarstofan Tún ehf. (Tún)

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy.  

Key indicators 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 20,676 hectares (12,436 hectares are used for the collection of wild plants).
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 35
    • Organic processors: 25
    • Organic importers: no data
    • Organic exporters: 4
  • Retail sales: No data.

Area and operator data: Tún

History of organic farming

  • 1930: Sesselja Sigmundsdóttir, a disciple of R. Steiner and anthroposophy, founds Sólheimar, the first organic farm in Iceland.
  • 1955: Dr Jónas Kristjánsson sets up the Organic Health Clinic and Horticulture Unit of the Nature Health Association of Iceland in Hveragerði
  • 1993: VOR - Organic Farmers & Growers Association is founded
  • 1994: The certification body Vottunarstofan Tún is founded
  • 2011: The first organic conversion scheme is introduced

Key sector institutions

Production base: land use and key crops

Figures for individual categories have not been assembled. However, of the total area, the largest part is used for collection of wild plants, and second in importance is permanent grassland.

Market

There are no data for sales volumes or values for the Icelandic organic market. The market has grown considerably over the last five years as exemplified by the ever increasing organic sections in supermarkets, a new, mostly organic retail chain (Lifandi markaður), and several restaurants using organic food.

  • Exports and imports: No data available. A major part of the organic products sold are imported, mostly from Western Europe, but increasingly also from the United States. Seaweed meal is by far the most important organic export product.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

Law no. 162/1993 on organic agiculture is still in force. In 2002, Iceland formally adopted EU Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91, to which it still adheres, as the European Economic Area (EEA) has not yet completed the incorporation of the new EU framework (e.g. EU Regulation No 834/2007) into the EEA agreement.

There is no official logo for organic products, but the Tún logo is used a lot.

Policy support

There is no official action programme in place in Iceland for the development of the organic sector. A limited conversion support scheme was introduced in 2011, but due to insufficient funding, it only applies to the new farmers who started the conversion process in that year. Some support has been provided by the authorities to develop organic sources at the agricultural college. The government also provides some support each year to Tún, for development projects.

Research & advice

One of the national advisors at the National Farmers' Union specialises in advice for the organic sector. Ó. Dýrmundsson is a national adviser on organic farming: ord@no-spam.bondi.is

Challenges & outlook

The sector faces two main problems. One is the almost total lack of conversion support schemes (with the limited exception noted above); the other is the very low supply of domestic fresh produce, with the exception of a few vegetable products and lamb.

Further information

For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.

Contact

Gunnar Á. Gunnarsson
Vottunarstofan Tún
Laugavegur 7
101 Reykjavík
Iceland
Tel.:+354 511 1330
tun@no-spam.tun.is
www.tun.is

Organic in Europe 2014

  • Organic in Europe 2014 - Prospects and Developments
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