Despite the crisis, the consumption of organic products is increasing in the European Union
Organic foods are attracting more and more European consumers. This sector is doing relatively well despite the economic crisis in Europe. Several reasons are put forward: health, better taste of the authentic food, contribution to the environment protection, natural resources or animal welfare.
In 209, the consumption of organic food in the EU was around 17.3 billion euros. This amount is not indicative of the habits of the European citizens, as the European countries show large disparity in the purchase of these certified products.
Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy consume 72% of bio-products
Germany is the Europe's largest organic market: during 2012, 7.04 billion euros of organic products were sold there. France is also a good reference, nearly 4 billion euro in 2012. Despite its presence in the top four, the United Kingdom is the European exception. While the organic market is growing across Europe, the UK market is decreasing, around 1.5% in 2012 compared to 2011. Finally, Italy is a promising market. In 2012, the sales of organic products increased 11%, compared to 2011, with nearly 3.1 billion euros in turnover.
Switzerland should be also in this top four: although the sales are low due to the size of the country (1.48 million in 2012), the share of spending on bio products is the largest in the continent (6.3%).
Spain is being hit hard by the crisis, but the organic food is one of the few markets that got out of it. In 2011, the sector grew nearly 20% of sales, compared to 2010.
What do the European consumers demand?
Organic products offer food safety as the way they have been grown is totally clear, avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals. General population is generally confident about the organic products. A French survey in 2009 shows that 90% of the respondents think that organic products are "more natural because they have been grown without chemicals”, 81% think they are "better for your health" and 74% believe that "quality nutritional foods are better preserved”.
More than half of the world's major bio-crops are grown in the European Union. In 2011, over 3.3 million hectares of bio crops were grown in the world, including 1.8 million hectares in the EU. Despite this impressive figure, it only represents the 5% of the agricultural area of the European Union. However, this ratio tends to widen. Farmers must meet a growing demand: consumers ask for local and organic products, not only vegetables but also organic animals.
Bio is not only a trend. Bio can provide market opportunities for farmers wishing to respond to the ever increasing demand for quality products environmentally friendly.