WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2013 – The potential market for U.S. organic products in the European Union could be worth about $50 million a year with opportunities in vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts, specialty grains and processed products, according to a recent report from the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

The Trade Report: Export Opportunities for U.S. Organics in the EU Market said a trade agreement from June 1, 2012 has allowed organic products certified in the United States or the European Union to be sold as organic in either market, which has streamlined trade between the two largest organic producers in the world.

The report said the trade partnership provides organic farmers to access to a growing combined market of $50 billion.

“Previously, growers and companies wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications to two different standards, which meant a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork,” the report said. “This partnership eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic farmers.”

In the United States, $6 million worth of organic products were exported to the EU in 2012, for a reduction of 13 percent compared to 2011, the report said, noting this was largely due to significant organic cherry exports in 2011 that went down to zero in 2012.

Still, the report estimated potential export increases to $50 million for the United States in the following categories:

  • Vegetables, including sweet potato, lentil and broccoli at a market potential of $19 million.
  • Fresh fruit, including apples, pears, cranberries, strawberries, roasted coffee, grapefruit and Minneolas at a market potential of $12 million.
  • Dried fruit and nuts including raisins, dates, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts at a market potential of $9 million.
  • Specialty grains including wheat, millet, soybeans and wheat at a market potential of $4 million.
  • Processed products including snack foods, wines and maple syrup at a market potential of $4 million.

For the EU, the report said, over the past decade, organic agricultural land in the EU has more than doubled with the largest areas in Spain, Italy and Germany accounting for more than 40 percent of the EU organic area.

Germany is the largest EU market for organic products where sales increased in 2011 by 9 percent to hit an annual market value of $9 billion, and accounting for about 33 percent of the total EU market, the report said.

“Germany is also one of the largest producers of organics and has one million hectares of organic agricultural land,” the report said. “However, the country imports large qualities of soybeans, wheat, corn, rice, potatoes, dairy products, meat and fresh produce.”

France is the EU’s second largest organic market with an annual market value of $5.5 billion. The report noted that France also has around one million hectares of organic agricultural land and is a large producer of organic products.

Italy and the United Kingdom are the third and fourth largest EU markets at a market value of about $2.5 billion each.

The report also discussed the purchasing habits of organic consumers, finding that the highest annual sales per person of about $100 was found in Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden and Germany. At the same time, it noted that there were more than a dozen EU member states with sales of less than $10 per person annually.

“The most important driver behind the growing organic market is the predominance of large supermarket chains, which has resulted in a greater availability of organic products,” the report said. “Not only have supermarkets embraced organic products, increasingly they have placed organic products on the shelves next to non-organic (or conventional) products. This has enhanced the availability for a larger audience.”

To view the report, visit Trade Report: Export Opportunities for U.S. Organics in the EU Market


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