Statistics Explained

Archive:Organic farming statistics - background

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Eurostat has been collecting data on organic farming in the European Union (EU) for a number of years. Organic farming is an agricultural production method which places the highest emphasis on environmental protection and animal welfare considerations. It avoids or largely reduces the use of products authorised in conventional agriculture, such as synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, growth promoters such as antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms.


Data on organic farming have been collected since 1997, however, they were not perfect. As of 2000, some improvements in the quality of statistics delivered to Eurostat could be noticed, but even today many EU Member States do not produce separate data on organic agriculture. It is automatically considered to be part of conventional agriculture.

Current developments

Existing statistics demonstrate that organic agriculture in the European Union is one of the most dynamic sectors characterised by a steady growth in size, in 2011 accounting for an estimated 9.6 million hectares of land and more than 230 000 certified organic farms. Five per cent and a half of the total utilised agricultural area in the EU is organic, accounting for more than 20 % of the world’s organic land.

European Union regulations stipulate that in order for the product to be certified as organic it has to be sown, in the case of crops, or reared, in the case of animals, on land that has been certified as organic for a period of at least two years. According to EU regulations, organic land areas include both fully converted and “under conversion” areas.

Organic production is strictly regulated under harmonised EU rules, which changed on 1 January 2009. The rules guarantee the authenticity of organic farming products wherever they are produced and ensure that the labelling of these products is accurate. All foods sold as organic must come from organic operators who are registered with an approved control body and subject to regular inspections.

The certification and control bodies, which determine whether a producer is entitled to label their products as organic, are created and supervised by the Member States. Three EU regulations from 2007 and 2008 specify the requirements and the procedures to follow, and apply to both crop and livestock farmers.

Data collection

Eurostat collects and analyses the data compiled by the organic inspection and certification bodies in the EU. The statistics on organic farming include data on organic crop areas, crop production and yields from fully converted areas, livestock and production of organic animal products, the number of registered organic operators as well as the number of registered operators processing and importing products issued from organic farming.

In March 2010, Eurostat released a major report on the status of organic farming in the European Union in 2008. The report focused on the data from two areas which boast the most complete figures so far — the organic land area and the number of registered organic operators (producers, processors and importers).

Intensive work is going on the harmonisation of data to reach a common European format. In its work Eurostat relies heavily on the conventional farm structure surveys, where specific questions on organic farming had been inserted. However, these surveys only take place every 10 years, with much smaller sample surveys of varying quality taking place in between, every two years. All the available food producer figures have also been used, but there is a need to receive much more data.

Organic farming in the agricultural statistical surveys

Organic farming data exists in the European statistics in two different datasets:

In the FSS Organic data has been collected since the 2000 Census.

The availability of data by year and country can be found here.

The type of data collected has changed throughout the various editions of the FSS as shown in the following table:

Organic data units 2000 2003 2005 2007 2010 2013
organic farming yes / no x
area of organic farming ha x x x x x
area of organic farming under certification ha x x x x x
organic farming animals total/partial x x x
organic cereals ha x x
organic dried pulses ha x x
organic potatoes ha x x
organic sugar beet ha x x
organic oil crops ha x x
organic fresh vegetables, melons and strawberries ha x x
organic pastures and meadows (excluding rough grazing) ha x x
organic fruit and berries ha x x
organic citrus fruits ha x x
organic olives ha x x
organic vineyards ha x x
organic other crops ha x x
organic bovine animals heads x x
organic pigs heads x x
organic sheep and goats heads x x
organic poultry heads x x
organic other animals yes / no x x

Organic market's outlook

The market for organic products is expanding. Sales of organic products in Europe have been growing steadily and reached approximately EUR 16 billion in 2007. The largest shares of organic products in the EU in 2007 were recorded in Germany, followed by the UK, France and Italy.

All the available data suggest that in the foreseeable future the European organic market will continue to grow, with all organic producers being obliged to feature the new EU organic logo as required by the new labelling regulations as of 1 July 2010.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

External links