[montanafood_ag] Organic Agriculture Expands to Meet Growing Demand

Lachapelle, Paul paul.lachapelle at exchange.montana.edu
Thu Jul 23 10:10:35 MDT 2009


Below is a study that may be of interest to list members on global organic ag demand.

 

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Subject: Organic Agriculture Expands to Meet Growing Demand

 

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Organic Agriculture Expands to Meet Growing Demand


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Farmers managed 32.3 million hectares of organic agricultural land worldwide in 2007, a 118-percent increase since 2000. This rapidly growing practice appears in 141 countries but still accounts for less than 1 percent of the world's agricultural land. 

According to the latest Vital Signs analysis on organic agriculture:

*	Consumer demand led to $46 billion in global sales of organic food and drink products in 2007, with average annual growth of $5 billion over the last decade. The United States and European Union account for 97 percent of the global revenue stream. 
*	Asia's organic food market is experiencing double-digit growth rates of 15-20 percent per year, fueled in part by food safety concerns. China is home to more than half of the region's 2.8 million hectares of organically managed land. India follows closely with more than 1 million hectares. 
*	Many organic product labels are now owned by large companies as market supply chains continue to consolidate. Analysts highlight growing trends in the number of highly processed organic foods, in global sourcing rather than local, and in the quantity of organic products that are traded internationally. 

This new organic agriculture update includes the latest figures on organic agricultural area globally and by continent from 2000 to 2007.

Read the Vital Signs analysis, "Organic Agriculture More than Doubled Since 2000." <http://www.elabs5.com/c.html?rtr=on&s=lizj,5vhk,db,jn5i,jqj0,5n4x,eobm&MLM_MID=274088&MLM_UNIQUEID=40461a72a2> 

  

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Organic Agriculture More Than Doubled Since 2000


by Alice McKeown/ July 23, 2009 

Farmers worldwide managed 32.2 million hectares of agricultural land organically in 2007, nearly 5 percent more than in the previous year and a 118-percent increase since 2000.1 (See Figure 1.) Organic farming is now reported in 141 countries; about two thirds of this land area is in industrial countries, and nearly half of the producers are in Africa.2 Still, more than three times as much land is devoted to genetically modified crops, and less than 1 percent of the world's agricultural land is now managed organically.3 

Although there is no standard definition of organic agriculture, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements describes it as a system that "relies on ecological processes rather than the use of inputs."4 Organic agriculture typically avoids the use of chemicals and prohibits genetically modified organisms.5 

Oceania, with some 12.1 million hectares, has more than one third of the land being farmed organically, most of which is in Australia.6 (See Figure 2.) A large portion of this is pastureland, which supports significant beef production in Australia as well as meat, dairy/milk, and wool production in New Zealand.7 Important organic crops include grains in Australia, kiwis and apples in New Zealand, and high-value export crops such as vanilla and cocoa in Pacific Island countries.8 

Italy, Spain, and Germany account for nearly 40 percent of the 7.8 million hectares of organic cropland in Europe.9 Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom saw the largest growth since 2006, but countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe also showed significant increases.10 Consumer demand has been increasing faster than land conversion, leading to a greater reliance on imports even though several countries have national organic action plans and other supportive policies.11 

Latin America now has 6.4 million hectares of organic land, with Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay as the leaders.12 Most of this is used to grow crops destined for the European Union, the United States, and Japan; at least 85 percent of organic food grown in Mexico is exported, for example.13 Two of the most important organic crops in the region are cocoa and coffee, which provide an important income source to small farmers.14 

In Asia, China has more than half of the region's 2.8 million hectares of organically managed land.15 India follows closely with more than 1 million hectares and far outpaces China in the number of producers: nearly 200,000 compared with China's 1,600.16 Recent news reports indicate that the rate of adopting organic farming practices in India may be on the rise.17 

Canada has 556,273 hectares of organic land, while the United States has 1.6 million hectares.18 (Updated estimates for the United States are due out in the second half of 2009.) Like Europe, the demand for organic products in the United States continues to outpace regional production, leading to an ever-increasing reliance on foreign suppliers.19 In Canada, a national system that tracks imported products may show the best areas of opportunity for increased domestic organic production.20 

Africa has 870,329 hectares of organically managed agricultural land, with Uganda topping the list at nearly 300,000 hectares (2.33 percent of its total agricultural land).21 Although the region is home to nearly half of the world's organic producers, the farms tend to be much smaller than in other regions.22 The largest documented organic crop in Africa is coffee, followed by olives.23 

Consumer demand led to $46 billion of global sales of organic food and drink products in 2007, with an average annual growth of $5 billion over the last decade.24 The European Union (EU) accounts for 54 percent of this revenue, and organic products make up 4-6 percent of food sales in some countries.25 The United States accounts for 43 percent of the global revenue stream, with organic now commanding 3.5 percent of total food and beverage sales, up 1 percent since 2005.26 Because the European market is more mature and has higher product penetration, the annual growth rate in the United States is larger, rising 16 percent in 2008 from the previous year to reach some $23 billion, compared with an average growth of some 10 percent in Europe.27 Although at a much smaller scale, the Asian market is also experiencing double-digit growth rates of 15-20 percent per year, fueled partly by concerns over food safety.28 

Many organic product labels are now owned by large companies such as Kraft, General Mills, Heinz, and Kellogg as supply and market chains continue to consolidate.29 Some large companies have also started to produce organic versions of their own popular brand name products, a development that was due in part to a 2006 decision by Wal-Mart to offer more organic products at its stores.30 A more recent trend is private labels, with large retailers selling organic products under a store brand.31 U.S. store brand sales account for 30 percent of all organic product sales in 2008, in part because large retailers provide about a third of total organic food and beverage sales.32 

There are several consequences of market consolidation, including a shift from small-scale to large-scale production.33 Market analysts have highlighted a growing trend in the number of highly processed organic foods, in the share of organic food going through conventional mass market food supply chains, in global sourcing rather than local, and in the amount of organic products that are traded internationally.34 

Scientists and policy analysts are increasingly pointing to the climate change benefits of transitioning to organic agriculture. Agriculture accounts for some 30 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions annually when the effects of encroachment on forestlands are included.35 These emissions are expected to continue rising over the next few decades as agricultural production is expanded, chemical inputs are increased, and changing diets lead to greater meat, dairy, and egg consumption.36 Organic agriculture can help reverse this trend by reducing greenhouse-gas-intensive inputs, improving energy efficiency, and significantly increasing carbon sequestration in soils.37 Organic agriculture may also be more resilient to changing climate conditions than conventional agriculture is because it increases soil fertility, helps crops survive drought, and promotes greater biodiversity.38 

Moving away from intensive agriculture may also lead to higher crop yields.39 One study has estimated that converting all current farmland to organic production could produce enough food per capita to satisfy a growing population without increasing total agricultural land.40 A shift to the sustainable practices of organic agriculture also has ecosystem benefits, such as reduced flooding and increases in bird and wildlife habitat.41 

Organic agriculture also offers social advantages over conventional production, including more jobs, reliable incomes for farmers and communities, and reliance on traditional skills and knowledge that do not depend on modern inputs.42 Studies of organic production in Africa have shown that it can increase food security for those most in need and create lasting food security solutions over the long term.43 

Farmers, international food producers and processors, and decisionmakers are likely to pay increasing attention to the nexus of national regulations, certification systems, and efforts to "harmonize" standards across borders. Several countries have equivalency agreements in place-whereby they agree to recognize each others' organic certifications-and more are under way, such as between the United States and Canada.44 In October 2008, three international organizations launched new harmonization tools to help small-scale farmers market their organic products internationally.45 The EU's updated organic regulations took effect in January 2009, including new rules to simplify imports of organic products.46 Some groups are calling for the widespread incorporation of social justice principles that protect workers and farmers.47 

Most experts on organic production highlight an urgent need for additional research, especially on improving organic crop yields and climate change mitigation.48 In the meantime, growth in organic food demand is expected to continue, although it may be dampened by the global recession.49 Consumer purchases of non-food organic products such as personal care products, nutritional supplements, and clothing, are also expected to increase-sales of these items were up 39 percent in the United States in 2008.50 

Complete trends will be available with full endnote referencing, Excel spreadsheets, and customizable presentation-ready charts as part of our new subscription service, Vital Signs Online <http://www.worldwatch.org/vsonline> , slated to launch this fall. 

  

Organic Agriculture Figures: 

 

 

	

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