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Review of the year 2016

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Picture: The big demo against the agriculture industry in Berlin gathered more than 23.000 people. Photo © Karin Heinze

Traditionally the first big event of the year related to the organic and sustainable movement takes place in January during the International Green Week in Berlin: it is the demo against the agriculture industry.  For the sixth time, over 100 organisations from agriculture, beekeeping, nature conservation, animal welfare, consumer protection, development aid and the artisan food segment called for a demonstration. Around 23,000 people responded and, on Saturday 16 January 2016 under the motto “Farms instead of industrial agriculture – no future without farmers“, they demanded an organic turnaround in agriculture. Other issues were food security and the free trade agreements TTIP and CETA. Read on. Our video will give you a good impression of the demo.

Market data


Very positive market data at Biofach and Vivaness

During BioFach and Vivaness 2016 very positive market data were published. The turnover of organic food and beverages at the retail level rose by 11.1% to more than €8.6bn for the German market in 2015. Find more details at our BioFach Special with more than 20 articles.

Organic turnover Germany 2015 presented at BioFach. Photo Karin Heinze

Organic turnover Germany 2015 presented at BioFach. Photo © Karin Heinze

Another positive market development in 2015 was the turnover of natural and organic cosmetics.It rose by around 10% to €1.1bn. Vivaness, the leading trade fair for natural and organic cosmetics, has been celebrating its tenth anniversary. Regarding the natural and organic cosmetics market read also the interview with market expert Elfriede Dambacher: Natural cosmetics: ”Quality and company development secure the future”,the forecast - the international Natural and Organic Personal Care Market Expected to Grow and new trends discussed in the international Natural Cosmetics Conference focuses on trends and the future

At the end of the four-day industry get-together in Nuremberg, trade fair organiser NürnbergMesse reported approximately 48,000 visitors attended this year’s trade fair duo BioFach and Vivaness  – 4,000 more than last year. Recently NürnbergMesse announced that Germany will be the Country of the Year for 2017.

BioFach and Vivaness always are a meeting point for the international organic industry

Picture: BioFach and Vivaness are always a meeting point for the international organic industry. Photo © Karin Heinze


More than 2.3 million organic producers worldwide

The statistics yearbook “The World of Organic Agriculture” published by FiBL and IFOAM – Organics International reveals that the area of organic farmland grew by around 500,000 hectares in 2014 to almost 44 million hectares in 172 countries. The yearbook also reports about a new all-time high of 2.3 million organic producers in 2014. 

Countries with largest number of organic producers

With a share of 30% of retail sales, Germany is the biggest organic market in Europe, followed by France (18%), the United Kingdom (9%) and Italy (8%). From a global point of view the 28 states of the European Union represent the second largest organic market worldwide with 38% of global retail sales. The United States however, the leader in organic sales, represents 43%, and China is already in the third place.

Global market share by retail sales

Interactive infographs on production and market data in Europe are available on the IFOAM or FIBL websites.


Organic sales in Scandinavia, France and the UK developed well in 2015

In the spring the Swedish online portal Ekoweb Sverige published market figures for 2015 for the Swedish organic food market: sales of organic food overall increased by 39% to more than 21 billion SEK (€2.3 bn). This successful development is due to the sales growth in sales of primarily the general retail chains ICA (+50%), Axfood (+43%) and Coop (+19%). The total turnover of the Swedish market for food and drink is about 280 billion SEK (€30.3 bn) – with organic sales reaching a market share of 7.7%.

Denmark claims to be the world leading organic nation

After the Danish organic market grew by 17.8 % in the first six month of 2016, and the organic share of the total food sales in the Danish retail sector is now 9.9%, Denmark claims to be the world leading organic nation. The marketing organisation OrganicDenmark expects that the sale of organic food to food service will increase by 25% in 2016.The  report by OrganicDenmark describes the very dynamic development of the Danish organic market: "The Danish consumers are the most pro-organic consumers in the world. In fact Denmark has the world's highest organic share and the most developed organic market.“ It is expected that especially the sales to food service will increase by 25% in 2016.

Denmark turnover per category in 2015

France: significant organic growth across the board in 2015

The organic market in France has been growing steadily for years. Turnover in the whole organic sector has reached around €5.5bn (preliminary estimate for 2015), which equates to growth of 10% compared with 2014. The number of companies in the organic industry, from organic farmers, processors and wholesalers to retailers, has risen to 42,216, a pleasing expansion of 7.2%. According to the organic agency Agence Bio, in the first half of 2016 organic food sales increased by 20% compared with the same period in 2015. It is the fastest increase that the country has experienced in the last seven years. France is expecting to reach €6.9 billion in organic sales by the end of 2016 - a gain of €1 billion in just one year. More articles from France.

La Vie Claire  - French organic supermarket

Picture: La Vie Claire  - French organic supermarket. Photo © Kai Kreuzer

UK: Organic market grows to 2.47 billion euros

The Soil Association’s 2016 Organic Market Report  reveals the organic market continued to experience steady growth of 4.9% in 2015. This is the third  consecutive year of growth for the UK organic sector, now worth £1.95 billion (€2.47 bn), reports Soil Association. Sales of organic have continued to outperform the non-organic grocery market which decreased by 0.9% in the same period. Organic has a 1.4% share of the food and drink market.

According to the report, the sustained interest in organic is partially driven by an increase in young and socially conscious ‘millennials’(shoppers born between 1980 and 2000) with strong social, ethical and environmental values. These consumers are increasingly choosing organic because they want to know the origins of their food and are willing to pay more for products with quality assurance standards supporting the environment, society and animal welfare.

UK: organic sales statistic

Continuous growth. Graphic © Soil Association

Dutch organic sales increased by 11.5 percent in 2015

In the Netherlands the share of organic in the retail trade (grocery and specialty) was more than 4.3% in 2015. Organic sales increased by 11.5% to 1.3 billion euros in 2015. In the first half of 2016 the growth in the supermarkets continued. The Dutch organisation Bionext released these figures in its Trend Report 2015. Bavo van den Idsert, Director of Bionext: "Consumers are increasingly opting for products that are animal and environmentally friendly."

FInd many more reports and news in archive.

Good Food Dutch organic supermarket

Picture: organic supermarket Good Food in Holland. Photo © Karin Heinze


Revision of the EU Organic Regulation  is still pending after 1000 days

"Only genuine progress justifies new organic legislation", says Peter Röhrig, managing director of the German organic association BÖLW in an interview last May. Some month and trialogue negotiations later at the end of 2016 EU organic farmers show red card to Brussels,the The organic regulation review has reached a dead end and the review of the EU regulation failed. A strong disagrement among EU agriculture ministers remains.

Brexit – What's next?

The British voted by a small majority to exit the European Union. That has consequences for the wider economy and for the EU. The wholefood industry has so far shown itself to be not particularly worried yet. In fact, there are many questions to be addressed, and they affect the organic sector too. The articles address issues from the  German  and the UK point view .


What will Brexit mean for the organic sector? Photo Pixabay

Coup in Turkey: impact on the organic industry

Turkey is an important supplier of organic products. Many west European organic companies maintain close business relations with Turkey. The attempted coup and its consequences could therefore have far-reaching implications for the organic sector. Manufacturers and the trade should ensure that they are well prepared. Doing business is more difficult under these circumstances says the president of the Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK), Eric Schweitzer: ”The prospects are not so good, and an outflow of capital has already begun as a result of the developments we've seen.“ All this could lead to the economic problems in Turkey becoming much worse. The situation regarding human rights could indeed impact on companies in the organic industry.

The latest question to be discussed in the organic movement after the election of a new president in the US is "What can the organic industry to expect from Trump?" Answers have to be found. 

Panel discussion on the consequences of the revision of the EU organic regulation

Picture: Participants in the panel discussion on the consequences of the revision of the EU Organic Regulation. Photo © Karin Heinze

IFOAM EU Congress: how to transform the agri-food system

Many important issues were discussed at the 10th IFOAM EU Organic Congress. The goal was to look at different models to fulfil the vision and turn Organic 3.0 into reality. Long-term IFOAM EU Director Marco Schlüter officially stepped down and Eduardo Cuoco who was responsible for the Technology Research Platform for organic food and farming TPOrganics, was appointed to be the new director during the General Assembly in Amsterdam. See the video-interview with the outgoing director Marco Schlüter and the new director Eduardo Cuoco. has been the media partner of  the IFOAM EU Organic Congress.You can find the links to all articles from the 10th IFOAM EU Organic Congress at one place.

Watch the video with statements of several stakeholders and the video how to deal with new EU organic regulation.



Fighting for the soil but against pesticides and GMO

September saw the official launch of the European Petition for Soil Protection: 350 organisations based in 26 EU Member States are involved in the network and committed to the campaign People4Soil. This is clear evidence of the awareness of the threat to soils among scientists, farmers, consumers, environmentalists and urban planners. Sealing, erosion, decline of organic matter, biodiversity loss and contamination are affecting soil availability and productivity, explains People4Soil. A European Citizens' Initiative is a formal request to the European Commission to propose legislation on soil protection. The petition has a duration of 12 months, from 12 September 2016 to 11 September 2017.



The discussion about the problematic pesticide glyphosate heated up in spring 2016 after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified this poison as “probably carcinogenic”. Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient in non-selective herbicides worldwide and in recent years a large number of studies and investigations have been published that prove how dangerous it is. The European Commission first suggested a renewal of authorisation of 15 years but after vehement protests it wants to restrict the renewal to 10 years. Several EU member states protested again : The Dutch Council Presidency had called for a reduction of five years, the Greens asked for a complete ban. At last a compromise was found and glyphosate was only approved for only another 18 month, and another survey will be undertaken.

Read also High presence of Glyphosate in U.S. products. All related articles on the topic of glyphosate and pesticides

First day of People´s Assembly together with Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague

Picture: protesters at the first day of People´s Assembly together with the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague. Photo © Karin Heinze

Tribunal gathers evidence of Monsanto´s ecocide

The Monsanto Tribunal was held in the middle of October in The Hague. A panel of five prestigious judges listened to witnesses from all over the world. Lawyers, farmers, mothers, health experts and scientists made serious accusations against the American chemicals and seed corporation Monsanto. The aim is to incorporate ecocide into international law. The People´s Assembly, that was held in parallel to the Tribunal, has already  “condemned“ Monsanto. Read also People’s Assembly Verdict: Monsanto guilty of crimes against the planet and humanity

More reports from The Hague.

Other important initiatives:

Regeneration Hub: new platform is launched

Saving soils and climate: "4 per 1000" Initiative

Bayer-Monsanto and the Concerned Organisations

Bayer-Monsanto merger about to happen

International organic markets

US organic market achieves new record high

According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), in 2015 the United States organic market grows to a new peak of  US$43.3bn (€39.6bn). The data show an increase in turnover about 11%, in absolute figures to a rise of  US$4.2bn (€3.8bn). Of the  US$43.3bn, retail sale of food accounted for US$39.7bn and non-food for US$3.6bn.

China – one of the top 4 organic markets worldwide

For years there were no official figures available for the organic market in the People's Republic of China, even though this huge country has for a long time been supplying a lot of organic products. According to the data we now have access to, catapulted China into fourth place in the worldwide ranking of organic markets. Watch the interview with the chairman of IFOAM-Asia Zhou Zheijang and Markus Arbenz, the managing director of IFOAM Organics International.

Another video shows how organic tea is cultivated and processed in China:

China is the birthplace of tea and has a centuries-old tradition. Tea has had a major influence on the development of Chinese culture. The video is taken at different organic tea gardens and shows the manufacturing of tea. An interview with Mr. Dong, the founder of an organic tea company, shows the development of the sector.

BIIO: Platform for marketing Indian organic products

The Indian organic market and in particular organic production have developed rapidly in recent years. India’s 650,000 organic farmers make it the country with the highest number of farmers actively involved in organic production in the world. For the seventh time, BioFach India together with India Organic (BIIO) brought producers and traders together. At the same time, it provided a networking platform for representatives from politics and associations and also an opportunity for technical discussions in the supporting conference.

BioFach India India Organic state booth
Picture: organic stakeholders at the BioFach India/ India Organic trade fair 2015. Photo © Karin Heinze

Ukraine is an important source of organic raw materials

Even after irregularities in recent years, some of a serious nature, nothing has changed regarding Ukraine as a sourcing country. There is potential and the new Ministry of Agriculture is working on closing gaps in the organic legislation, supporting organic farms and creating a corresponding infrastructure. The two-day conference “Sourcing Organic from Ukraine” was conducive to constructive dialogue between representatives from Ukraine and representatives from politics and control organisations, importers and processors. Watch the video interview with Toralf Richter: A potential that ought to be exploited. Read also the article about the national market: Organic is becoming increasingly popular in Ukraine




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