The world’s organic land continues to grow: more than 72.3 million hectares of agricultural land is organic

17 Feb 2021

The FiBL Organic Agriculture Research Institute and IFOAM – Organics International presented the latest data on organic agriculture around the world at BIOFACH, the world’s leading organic food fair, taking place this year online.

According to FiBL’s latest survey of organic farming around the world, organic farmland increased by 1.1 million hectares and organic retail sales continued to grow, as shown by data from 187 countries (data as of the end of 2019). The 22nd edition of the study “The world of organic agriculture” published by FiBL and IFOAM – Organics International shows a continuation of the positive trend observed in recent years. This annual survey on organic agriculture around the world is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the International Trade Center (ITC), the Swiss Coop Sustainability Fund and NürnbergMesse, the organizers of the BIOFACH fair.

The global organic market continues to grow

The global market for organic food reached 106,000 million euros in 2019. The United States is the leading market (44,700 million euros), followed by Germany (12,000 million euros) and France (11,300 million euros). In 2019, many major markets continued to show strong growth rates; for example, the French market increased by more than 13 percent. Danish and Swiss consumers spent more on organic food (344 and 338 euros per capita, respectively). Denmark had the highest organic market share, with 12.1 percent of its total food market.

3.1 million organic producers worldwide

In 2019, 3.1 million organic producers were reported. India continues to be the country with the largest number of producers (1,366,000), followed by Uganda (210,000) and Ethiopia (204,000). Most small producers are certified in groups based on an internal control system.

Steady increase in organic farmland

A total of 72.3 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2019, representing a growth of 1.6 percent or 1.1 million hectares compared to 2018. Australia has the largest organic agricultural area (35, 7 million hectares), followed by Argentina (3.7 million hectares). and Spain (2.4 million hectares). Due to the large area of ​​organic farmland in Australia, half of the world’s organic farmland is in Oceania (36.0 million hectares). Europe has the second largest area (16.5 million hectares), followed by Latin America (8.3 million hectares). Organic area increased on all continents compared to 2018 except Asia (mainly due to a drop in organic farmland reported from China) and Oceania.

Ten percent or more of agricultural land is organic in 16 countries

Globally, 1.5 percent of agricultural land is organic. However, many countries have much higher quotas. The countries with the highest organic shares of their total agricultural land are Liechtenstein (41.0 percent), Austria (26.1 percent), and São Tomé and Príncipe (24.9 percent). Some states in India are or aspire to be 100% organic in the next few years. In 16 countries, 10 percent or more of all agricultural land is organic.

Global organic statistics show an ongoing commitment to transparency in the organic sector

“Global organic statistics have proven useful for international development cooperation programs and support strategies for organic agriculture and markets, and are crucial for monitoring the impact of these activities. This publication shows our continued commitment to the transparency in the organic sector, “says Louise. Luttikholt, IFOAM – Executive Director of Organics International. Knut Schmidtke, Director of Research, Extension and Innovation at FiBL Switzerland, adds “The yearbook is an outstanding reflection of the level of trust that people around the world have in organic agriculture and its importance for nutrition, the environment and the sustainable development”.

COVID-19 has resulted in a significant increase in the demand for organic products in many countries, but also challenges: “We hope to see the effect of the pandemic on the development of the sector with the 2020 data that will be ready within a year” says Helga Willer, who is in charge of the yearbook at FiBL.

Source: FiBL