No. 5 · September 2006

EU research

News from EU research activities

Improving the Scope and Quality of Organic Market Data

The European market for organic products is developing fast, with more and more farmland being converted to organic production. Organic farming statistics are, however, poorly developed or non-existent in many countries. There is only limited international collaboration and harmonisation. Detailed and reliable market information is urgently needed as a decision tool, for example by producers to assess the costs of conversion, by market actors to achieve transparent price setting, by control bodies and authorities to estimate output levels for fraud prevention, by policy-makers to set levels for financial support and by researchers to project future trends.

The EISfOM project has addressed the needs of all these groups covering issues related to data collection at production, trade and consumer levels. It also reviewed the state of organic data collection in 32 countries, identified harmonisation opportunities and evaluated innovative national level pilot projects.

”We found that the level of investment in statistics and market information does not reflect the size of this growing sector”, says project coordinator Nicolas Lampkin from the University of Wales. “Currently more than six million hectares are managed organically, thus representing four percent of the European Union’s agricultural land. European Consumers are spending up to €15 billion on organic food per year, and demand is growing up to ten per cent annually. This is equivalent to the output of some of the smaller EU member states, but the investment in organic market data does not come close to matching the food and agriculture statistics efforts of these countries. There is a need for increased investment at EU and national government level, but also by the private sector companies with an interest in developing the organic market.”

Among the EISfOM reccomendations are that relevant bodies of the European Commission like Eurostat - the EU’s statistical office - should play a central role in this data collection process, and that there should be a close cooperation between the European Commission and national official agencies, researchers and stakeholders of the organic sector.

The recommendations are based on the work of the project group who consulted the European organic sector extensively during the project’s lifetime. Two European seminars in Berlin and Brussels provided opportunities for intensive dialogue. Both seminars are documented in published proceedings. The final recommendations of the project have now also been made available. All publications can be downloaded from the EISFOM internet site which provides also access to the latest statistical data on organic farming in Europe.

More information

The project reports etc can be found at the project website at