The growing demand for organic food products is fueling Italian organic agricultural production.
Over the past 10 years, sales of organic food in Italy have increased by 133%. Similarly, exports of Italian organic products increased by 181% in value during the same period.
Eighty-one percent of these exports are food, with the rest made up of cosmetics and other agriculture-related health products.
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According to the latest data published by Nomisma, a consultancy firm, the value of exports of organic agricultural products has increased from 1.2 billion euros in 2012 to 3.4 billion euros in 2022. organic food in 2022 will exceed €2.7 billion, a 16% year-on-year increase.
Today, organic exports represent 6% of the overall value of Italian agri-food exports. According to Nomisma, Italy is the second largest organic food exporter behind the United States, whose exports exceeded 2.98 billion euros in 2021.
Wine is by far the most popular organic food product sold by Italian companies on the international market, accounting for 19% of all export sales of organic products. In comparison, total wine sales represent 13% of Italian agricultural exports by value.
Nomisma estimated that Italian organic food exports are expected to increase over the next three years, mainly to Germany (+53%), northern European countries (+32%) and the United States (+25%). %).
In international and domestic markets, interest in organic extra virgin olive oil is also growing. In a recent report, the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea) said that the production of organic extra virgin olive oil reached 46,000 tons in 2019, valued at around 200 million euros.
Ismea said sales of organic extra virgin olive oil have been fueled by growing public demand and the higher prices producers can charge for organic oils, traditionally between €0.20 and €0.40 of more.
Outside of Italy, interest in organic extra virgin olive oil has also increased recently. Organic olive oils won about one in three awards at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest olive oil quality competition.
In its report, Nomisma said organic food consumption is mainly driven by household consumption – as opposed to restaurant or hospitality consumption – increasing by 4% between 2020 and 2021 to almost 3, 9 billion euros.
In 2021, 89% of Italian families bought at least one organic product. In 2012, about 50% of families did the same. Today, 54% of Italian families consume organic food products at least once a week.
Quality and health benefits are the most relevant drivers of organic food purchases. Thirty-nine percent of consumers surveyed by Nomisma also cited sustainability and respect for biodiversity as influencing their decisions. Twenty-eight percent of consumers demand that organic food containers be 100% recyclable.
According to Nomisma, large retailers account for 56% of all organic food sales to families and restaurants, with a total value of €2.2 billion in 2021.
However, the report highlights an 8% growth between 2020 and 2021 for the sales of specialized organic food retailers, which now represent 26% of the market. Growth of 5% is also expected for other organic food sales channels, such as pharmacies, fairs and local markets.