Current trends in the German organic sector
Heike Kuhnert | 13.03.2023
The organic food industry in Germany has experienced a steady growth over the last two decades. For the year 2022, the success-spoiled sector has recorded a decline in sales for the first time.
In 2022, every seventh farm in Germany operated organically, a total of 36,548 organic farms. This corresponds to 14 percent of all German farms. The organically farmed agricultural area now covers about 1.86 million hectares, slightly more than 11 percent. Compared to 2021, the organically farmed area grew by almost 4 percent.
The market volume of organic food is now 15.3 billion euros. It includes sales in traditional food retail including the discount business, natural food retail and other shopping outlets, which in-clude drugstores, health food stores, farm shops and craft businesses such as bakeries. Out-of-home consumption is not included. It should be remembered that the organic market was one of the winners of the corona pandemic. From this point of view, it is quite a success that the gains from the two previous years could be maintained very largely.
Large gap between status quo and political goals
The current figures make obvious: despite steady growth, the sector is still far away from the ambitious goals of the German government: by 2030, organic farming is to cover 30 percent of the agriculturally used area and the share of regional and organic products in the range of goods offered to the end consumer is to increase accordingly.
Against this background, questions arise: What growth potential still lies in organic farming? What would have to change in order for the organic food industry in Germany to continue to grow more strongly and more clearly in the direction of the political goals? What is the significance of the development of organic production in neighbouring European countries and worldwide? Is organic farming in Germany competitive?
Finding answers for more growth
To answer these questions, we regularly evaluate the available sector data. In addition, we examine specific aspects of the development of organic farming to date, for example the extent of and reasons for a return to conventional farming or the agrarian structural changes in organic farming overall and at the individual farm level.
Our analyses show: The development is influenced to a considerable extent by the political promotion of organic farming and the demand for organic food. Other factors, such as the price development for conventional products or the promotion policy for renewable energy sources, also play a decisive role. A further substantial expansion of organic farming in Germany and Europe will be difficult to achieve without a coherent policy for agriculture and the food industry – it is necessary to steer and work out new ways forward.