Few sectors within the Spanish economy can look back on a growth of over 10% in recent years. Yet organic producers continue to benefit from the spending habits of the conscious consumer. Spain is now the largest European exporter of fresh organic food.
Consumers are not only opting for healthily produced foods in larger numbers, but care for the environment also ensures constant growth in the market. Moreover, national and European regulations increasingly include sustainability criteria.
The Covid pandemic has amplified the growing popularity of ecological products. The large distribution channels now have their own production lines; and almost all supermarkets stock numerous bio products. Whilst this mainly concerns food, the interest in organic care products, make-up, clothing and shoes is also on the rise.
A strong global presence
Worldwide, Spain takes a creditable fourth place for ecological agricultural production. Spain tops the global list for organic olive oil and wine exports, and is second for citrus fruits and legumes. This export value is estimated at about €900million per year. Alongside organic livestock farmers and beekeepers, Spain has almost 50 thousand bio producers. This is due to having the largest area of certified organic agricultural land – more than 2.2 million hectares, which equates to 8.5% of the total area of agricultural land in Spain. In comparison, in 2019 the Netherlands had 68 thousand hectares. Data from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food shows their combined turnover growth at over 10%.
The growth of organic production is partly the result of the European Green Deal, which aims to achieve 25% certified ecological agricultural land in each member state. The challenge now is to convert current intensive agriculture into bio agriculture and to abandon high production at low cost.
Room for organic growth
Despite the growing interest in bio food, there is still room for further growth. Only one in four consumers in Spain indicate that they buy organic food on a weekly basis. In 2018, the average weekly spend in Spain was €46.60. In countries such as Switzerland and Denmark, this rose to more than €300 per week.
The Spanish government has the ability to influence the consumption of ecological products through its regulations. For example, the Italian government subsidises organic farming, while in France the food industry bill requires restaurant meals to contain 50% organic products, or ones that take into account the preservation of the environment, from 2022.