The World of Organic Agriculture 2012

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Thirty-seven million hectares of agricultural land worldwide are farmed organically. The global market for organic food is estimated at 44.5 billion euros. It grew by approximately 8 % in 2010, FibL report. These figures are from the 12th edition of “The World of Organic Agriculture” (picture) and are based on 2010 data. This comprehensive standard reference book includes organic agriculture statistics from 160 countries and was released at BioFach in Nuremberg.

The largest growth of organic agricultural land was in Europe, where the area increased by 0.8 million hectares and is now at 10 million hectares (+9 % compared with 2009). In Asia, organic farmland decreased. Overall, however, global organic agricultural land has not changed compared with the 2009 data. The organic arable and permanent crop area increased worldwide by approximately 6 %. Those crops are of particular relevance for the organic market. For arable crops, cereals are the most important crop group (2.5 million hectares). Oilseeds cover 0.5 million hectares, and protein crops and vegetables 0.3 million hectares each. The key permanent crops (almost 3 million hectares) in terms of land under organic management are coffee (0.7 million hectares), olives (0.5 million hectares) and cocoa (0.3 million hectares).

One third of the global organic agricultural land is in Oceania (33 %), followed by Europe (27 %) and Latin America (23 %). Australia is the country with the biggest organic agricultural area (12 million hectares), followed by Argentina (4.2 million hectares) and the USA (1.9 million hectares). The countries with the largest share of organic agricultural land of all farmland are the Falkland Islands (36 %), followed by Liechtenstein (27 %) and Austria (20 %).

Globally 1.6 million producers farm using organic methods, and approximately 80 % of these are in developing countries. As in previous years, the countries with the most producers are India (picture), Uganda, Mexico and Ethiopia. The market research company Organic Monitor estimated the global market for organic products in 2010 at 59.1 billion US dollars (44.5 billion euros). Compared with 2009, the market increased by roughly 8 % in Europe and the United States. The leading market is the United States of America with 20.2 billion euros. In Europe, where 19.6 billion euros were spent, Germany leads at 6 billion euros, followed by France (3.4 billion euros) and the United Kingdom (2 billion euros). The countries with the highest annual per capita spending were Switzerland and Denmark with more than 140 euros.

According to FiBL, these figures show that in countries where organic agriculture is institutionally well embedded, there is a constant growth of the market and of the area under organic management. This is impressively shown in the case of Europe, where many countries provide a wide range of support measures like direct payments, advisory services, relevant research and marketing measures. In countries where organic agriculture is not yet fully integrated into national agricultural policies, and farmers receive less support through advice and research, the ups and downs of the organic area can be substantial. Further information is available at


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