The organic food market reached a record 5.5 billion euros in France in 2015. Production and consumption are increasing in 2015 and are predicted to grow by about 9% by the end of the year. “After increasing 10% in 2014 from 2013 levels to reach 5 billion euros, the market for organic products is continuing its growth and should gain an additional 500 million euros by the end of the year to reach 5.5 billion euros,” said Elisabeth Mercier, Director of France’s Organic Agency, during a press conference in Paris.
France ranks ninth worldwide in the amount of space given to organic agriculture at 1.25 million hectares (about 3 million acres). This represents about 4.6% of France’s total agriculture area, far above the United States’ 1%.
The increase in 2015 represents a whopping 132% increase in the organic products market compared to 2007. This is in part due to programs promoting the consumption of organic and local food. The National Federation of Organic Agriculture has put in place a program called “Eating organic and local; it’s ideal” with 240 events planned across France to promote local and organic food products. Increasing concern about the environment has also created a worldwide increase in interest in organic agriculture.
France has seen particularly rapid growth in organic agriculture in the past few decades. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Federation of Organic Agriculture, growth in farmland devoted to organic food products has increased by about 150% in the past ten years and skyrocketed a truly incredible 1,250% since 1995 levels!
The agricultural sectors with the largest amount of space devoted to organic agriculture are dried vegetables, with 20% of surface area given to organic agriculture; fruits, with more than 14%; aromatic plants and herbs, 13%; and grapes for wine, with more than 8%.
The French government also maintains strict labelling requirements for organic goods to allow consumers to easily identify organic products and have confidence that the highest standards of organic agriculture were applied when making the product.
The benefits of organic agriculture are plentiful. One of the biggest benefits is that pesticides and other harsh chemicals aren’t used during the production of organic produce. Water quality is increased, and soils are maintained in better health. Additionally, under France’s organic labelling rules, farm animals’ well-being is taken care of, with access to pastures and limits on animal density.