The key theme for the BIOFACH 2014 Congress and indeed the whole trade fair, held at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg 12-15 February was the future of organic agriculture and the organic food industry – Organic 3.0.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) presented one of the major sessions on Organic 3.0. Highlighted was that 1.9 million certified organic farmers in 164 countries on 37.5 million hectares and a global market for organic food of US$63.8 billion is what the organic movement achieved up to the year 2012.

Positive trends continue as shown in the 2014 edition of the FiBL-IFOAM study ‘The World of Organic Agriculture. Consumer demand increases with 10% market growth in the U.S., the world’s largest organic market. More farmers cultivate organically (+5%) and more land is organically certified (+0.5%), said Dr. Helga Willer of FiBL.

Organic 1.0 refers to the foundation laid by organic pioneers of various backgrounds. While the past decades (Organic 2.0) have seen organic agriculture develop impressively, global food production is far away from being sustainable: poverty, social injustice and hunger prevail in many rural areas.

Farmers – despite 2014 being the UN year of family farming – are disempowered and agriculture contributes significantly to climate change and loss of biodiversity on the planet. Hence, the launch of Organic 3.0 at BIOFACH 2014 is well timed, with the purpose of strategy building and innovation towards a more positive impact.

Organic 3.0 aims for sustainable use of natural resources rather than exploitation. The strategy focuses on impact rather than on perfection, and full transparency of the value chain rather than green washing!

“The holistic nature of organic is an opportunity to address global challenges”,  saidMarkus Arbenz, executive director of IFOAM.

“The movement is looking into numerous issues such as nutrition and human health, soil and water conservation, free access to seeds, land ownership, animal welfare, and it will lobby for true cost accounting and against perverse subsidies. And we need to secure supply to the market that drives our development.”

There has also been a proliferation of certification control bodies (CBs): 55 U.S. CBs located mainly in the U.S; 52 outside the U.S. that are U.S. approved; 181 CBs located in the EU and 20 European CBs operating worldwide.

Global Statistics 2014: The market, the producers, and the area

Market research firm Organic Monitor estimates the global market for organic products in 2012 reached almost 64 billion U.S. dollars (50 billion Euros), and while there has been 27% market growth since 2008, growth slowed due to the monetary crisis.

Amarjit Sahota of Organic Monitor says the U.S. with $32 billion market value has 3-4% market growth with supermarkets as the main channels and a lot of consolidation among suppliers.

The EU ($29bn value) has 2-3% market growth, with growth rates mixed and oversupply continuing; while Asia at $1.4bn is seeing demand concentrate in a two-tier market and mislabelling of organic with conventional. Japan is the biggest market followed by South Korea.

The largest market is the U.S., followed by Germany (7 billion Euros) and France (4 billion Euros), while 96% of global sales are concentrated in the EU and North America.

The countries with the highest per capita spending were Switzerland (189 Euros) and Denmark (159 Euros).

“Global growth will expand by 3.7% in 2014 with healthy growth in North America, while EU growth rates are expected to pick up,” Mr. Sahota said.

“There are consequences of all these labels such as multiple organic fair trade and sustainable logos and nutritional labels, and while organics normally carry a premium, private labels in supermarkets are quite successful and if the organic market share is to rise above 3%, there are lessons to be learned from private label.”

Moving from consumers to producers, according to the FiBL-IFOAM survey, approximately 80% of a global total of 1.9 million organic producers (up from 1.8 million) are located in developing countries. As in previous years, the countries with the most producers are India (600,000), Uganda (189,610), Mexico (169,707), and Tanzania (148,610).

From a farmland perspective, a total of 37.5 million hectares were organic at the end of 2012. An increase of almost 200,000 hectares was reported compared with 2012. In Africa, organic land increased by 7% and in Europe by 6%.

One third of all global organic agricultural land is in Oceania (32%; 12.2 million hectares), followed by Europe (30%; 11.2 million ha), and Latin America (18%; 6.8 million ha).

Australia is the country with the largest organic agricultural area (12 million ha, with 97% of that area used as grazing), followed by Argentina (3.6 million ha) and the United States (2.2 million ha).

The share of organic land in Europe is catching up with Oceania, while arable crops and permanent crops are going up faster than grassland. However, the organic market is growing faster than organic farmland.