Organic farming in Europe - Statistics & Facts

The term “organic” broadly applies to a method of crop and livestock production that involves abstaining from the use of pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. Organic farming, which arose after the industrialization of agriculture in the 1900s, aims at protecting the environment, preserving the soil nutrients and maintaining biological diversity within the system. In addition, it promotes the use of crop rotation and cover crops, and stimulates a balanced host-predator relationship.

Europe held 2.7 million hectares of organic agricultural land as of 2015. Among the leading countries in the organic farming industry Spain and Italy stand out in terms of organic agricultural land and number of organic producers. A further specification worth mentioning is the use of farmland. It is possible to distinguish between arable and permanent crops, permanent grassland and other uses.

On the production side, the number of organic producers in the European Union 28 countries amounted to 269 thousand in 2015. Similarly, the number of organic processors in the EU-28 has increased in the past eight years peaking at 58 thousand in the year 2015. Organic agricultural production includes several different products depending on the geographical area of the country and the environmental background. For instance in Italy, both the land area designated to organic viticulture and the land used to grow cereals are remarkable. Conversely, Denmark produces more organic diary products, producing 15 million kilograms of organic eggs in 2015.

The boom in the organic agriculture industry is accompanied by a positive growing trend in the organic food market in Europe. In fact, the organic retail sales value in 2015 amounted to 29.8 billion euros, Demand for organic foods is also on the rise, primarily driven by personal health choices and the adoption of certain diets. As of 2015, the per capita consumption of organic food was highest in Switzerland at around 262.2 euros.

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Organic farming in Europe - Important statistics

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