There is a growing appetite for organic food in the world’s second biggest market for the products.
Organic food demand increased by 15 percent in the European Union to US$35 billion in 2016, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“The organic food market in the European Union is booming,” stated the report.
It is the second biggest market in the world for organics next to the U.S., which had $43 billion in sales. Germany and France account for more than half of the EU-28 organic market.
The EU is also the second biggest market for Canadian organic products, according to recently released data.
Canada started tracking organic exports in 2017 and the results are in. Only 17 products are being tracked but they are the most important products identified by the organic sector.
The U.S. was the top market for Canadian organic products in 2017 with sales of $88.2 million.
“The EU isn’t that far behind,” said Jill Guerra, research and special projects co-ordinator with the Canada Organic Trade Association.
Canada’s sales to the EU amounted to $83.4 million out of a total 2017 export program of $461.9 million.
Germany, Belgium and Italy were the top three buyers, accounting for 58 percent of the EU’s purchases from Canada.
The top three imports were maple syrup followed by green lentils and durum.
The EU is also a large and growing market for U.S. organic products.
The U.S. officially exported $7.5 million of organic goods to the EU in 2016. But the real number is likely multiple times higher because only a fraction of organic goods has HS codes that can be tracked.
Exports for the first 11 months of 2017 were up 64 percent over the same period in 2016, providing an indication that demand in the EU is not slowing down.
Goods with HS codes are largely fresh products such as milk, fruits and vegetables. Exports of processed products or organic nuts are not being tracked.
Lettuce, carrots and coffee are the three leading U.S. organic exports to the EU.
Farmers in the EU are also attempting to meet the growing organic demand in the region. Organic agricultural land has more than doubled in the last decade.
Growers planted 30 million acres of organic crops in 2016, or 6.7 percent of the total EU-28 agricultural land. About 45 percent of that land is used for permanent grassland.
The largest arable crops are green fodder and cereals.
Spain is the largest producer of organic crops in the EU followed by Italy and France.