The new study by the Organic Monitor named The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2010 reported that the global organic sales reached $50.9 billion in 2008, double the $25 billion recorded in 2003. Projected growth is between 20 and 30 percents, worldwide.
The organic food trend, which started in the 70s as a reaction to widespread use of agrochemicals in food production is now a major player in the food production and is not just a niche any more. The trend encompasses consumers, agricultural producers, food distributors, farmers, and affects even the financial market.
Organic agriculture started as local phenomena, people growing food mostly for themselves and for their neighbors. This trend grew into a growing popularity of small local producers, which could produce healthy, fresh food on a small scale for a reasonable price.
A lot has changed since. In 2008, land farmed organically in the world totaled 35 million hectares. This acreage was farmed by 1.4 million producers from 154 countries. The area of organic agricultural land increased all over the world by nine percent compared to 2007. The majority – 22 million hectares – were grassland. More than 8.2 million hectares were used for cropland. Almost 31 million hectares that are organic are wild collection areas and land for bee keeping.
The regions with the largest area of organically managed land are Oceania (12.1 million hectares in Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding island states), Europe (8.2 million hectares), and Latin America (8.1 million hectares).
Spire Research and Consulting together with the S.P. Joint Center of Management, Singapore, published the results of their study, which found that, from the small market in 2002 worth just about S $10,000, organic market grew to S$68 million in 2008. This growth trend is expected to continue at the rate of 20 to 30 percent per year.
Although the price of organic food in Singapore is about 112 percents higher than the price of the same produce grown traditionally, this did not deter the loyal organic shoppers. When interviewed, they said that the economic crisis did not force them to change their habits. Their reason for choosing organic food were the same as in the rest of the world: health safety, superior taste, environmental concern and fashion consciousness.
The study found that the organic market in Singapore still consists of high and middle income locals and expatriates, and in order to continue growing needs to reach the mass market. The suggested measure is to introduce government certification of local organic growers, in order to increase confidence of shoppers.
According to the CNN, organic food continued popularity trend parallels other similar trends, all related to the increased health concerns of average consumers: slow cooking, vegetarianism, flexitarianism (mostly plant-based diet), locally grown food and functional foods (foods with added value like vitamins).
The healthy eating is not the only reason for the continuous popularity of organic food. There is also an increased search for healthier lifestyle, especially among baby-boomers, who are reaching retirement age and searching for more meaningful existence. Many are opting for organic agriculture, as a way to live and to feed themselves.