Global organic growth continues
Molly Conisbee - 17 February 2012
Organic farmers, food manufacturers, certifiers and enthusiasts from all over the world have gathered in Germany this week at the largest annual organic trade fair in the world. They are meeting in an unexpectedly positive atmosphere, as almost without exception they bring news of rapidly growing sales, despite the worst global recession for decades.
Thirty-seven million hectares of land worldwide are farmed organically and the global market for organic food grew by 8% in 2010. Global sales are now valued at 44.5 billion euros. As the global growth in GM crops stall, it is worth remembering that by the GM industry‘s own optimistic (and in some cases extremely inventive) figures, there are only around 110,000 hectares of GM crops in Europe (around 0.1% of all arable land) while organic farming accounts for 3.7% of farm land, and is growing.
The largest organic market in the world, the USA, is growing at around 8%, and has grown consistently in every one of the last six years, right through the recession. Growth has continued in all the major European markets apart from the UK. Even European countries where the recession is having a terrible impact, like France, Italy and Greece, have seen rises in organic food sales.
As the Soil Associaiton explored in our report ‘The Lazy Man of Europe‘, the UK is a lonely exception to this rule. However, there are many positives for the organic market here, despite a background of falling supermarket sales, with some notable growth ocurring in some key sectors. The details will be revealed when the Soil Association launches our market report at our annual conference in London on 2 March.
Molly is our director of campaigns and communications and has worked at the Soil Association since 2008. She joined team Soil from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, where she was director of communications and before that she did time with the new economics foundation, the Association of London Government and the Labour Party among others. When not campaigning and communicating, Molly enjoys cooking, reading and fine wine, and looking after her Jack Russell, Caz.