Market developments

The market for sustainable consumer products continues to grow in most Western industrialised countries. A growing range of organic products, new sales channels and strong customer loyalty result in a sustainable growth in sales. In addition to the food industry, the personal care and textile industries include an increasing number of pioneers that are focused on making the supply chain more sustainable and fair.

The latest annual European growth numbers by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) cover 2016. They show an expansion of 11.4% in 2016, bringing the size of the European organic food market to EUR 33.5 billion. Globally, European countries account for the highest shares of organic food sales as a percentage of their respective food markets. Worldwide, Denmark has the highest organic share of organic food sales (9.7%), followed by Luxembourg (8.6%) and Switzerland (8.4%). Within Europe, Switzerland has the highest per capita consumption with EUR 274, followed by Denmark and Sweden, with per capita spending of EUR 227 and EUR 197 respectively.

  • The Danish organic food market is relatively small in absolute numbers (just over EUR 1.2 billion), but is an important market for Triodos Organic Growth Fund. Two of the fund’s investments are Danish companies Aarstiderne and Naturfrisk. According to FiBL, the organic food market in Denmark increased by 20% in 2016.
  • The strong growth trend in organic food in Sweden has already been going on for four years. In 2016, the organic food market grew by 13% to EUR 1.9 million (2015: 39% and 2014: 45%). Due to the high growth rates, the market share of organic food is currently 7.9%. Of the total Swedish food market, online sales stand out and represent 25% of total organic food sales.
  • It is estimated that in 2016 the size of the organic food market in the Netherlands was EUR 1.4 billion, implying a growth rate of 10%. According to Bionext, supermarkets increased their organic turnover by 12%. Up to now this has not cannibalised the turnover of specialty stores. The market share of organic products compared to the entire food market in the Netherlands is 4.4%.
  • Germany’s organic market has traditionally been strong and recorded a growth rate of 9.9% in 2016 (2015: 11%). The total turnover of organic food amounted to EUR 9.5 billion in 2016 and is expected to have grown to EUR 10 billion in 2017. Natural food stores are facing increased competition from conventional retailers that are expanding their organic product offering. Organic sales in conventional supermarkets increased to EUR 5.5 billion in 2016, representing a growth rate of 14.6%. Germany remains the largest European market for organic products, accounting for almost one third of total organic food sales in Europe. Organic food represents 5.1% of the entire food market in Germany, according to AMI (Agricultural Market Information Company).
  • The organic market in France grew rapidly in 2016. According to a report published by Agence Bio, French specialist stores in natural food, conventional food retailers and farm shops generated EUR 1.2 billion more in turnover from organic products in 2016 than in the previous year. As a result, the industry grew by 21.7% (2015: 10%) and generated EUR 6.7 billion in turnover altogether. In 2016, 15% of the French population consumed organic produce on a daily basis, compared to 10% in 2015.
  • The Swiss market of organic retail is relatively large and growing rapidly. Organic food sales increased by 21%, from EUR 1.9 billion to EUR 2.3 billion in 2016. The market share of organic food in Switzerland as a percentage of the total food and beverage market amounts to 8.4 %. Consumers are buying more and more organic products: half of them buy them every day or several times a week.
  • In the United Kingdom (UK) the organic market got off to a slow start compared to other European countries, but 2016 was the fifth year of strong growth. According to the organic market report of the Soil Association, the market grew by 7.1% to reach a value of GBP 2.1 billion. Sales of organic food at retailers increased by 6.1%, while sales through home delivery grew by 10.5%. Also, the organic beauty and wellness sector in the UK grew by 13%, to a total market size of EUR 69.5 million.

The European countries with the highest per capita consumption of organic food in 2016 (in EUR)

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