As already mentioned in the first part of the article, where we focused in particular on the world of Organic Wine, in this second part we will explore the entire sector of organic farming, looking at trends and prospects for the future.
The values and needs of consumers have changed in recent years, and consequently the demand for products has shifted to another horizon: products of an organic nature.
What follows is a general overview of the evolution of organic food in Italy, Italian families’ views of organic food and the trend in demand for organic products in our country.
EVOLUTION OF ITALIAN ORGANIC FOODS FROM 2010 TO THE PRESENT:
The Italian organic sector continues to consolidate and strengthen, not only with regard to the national agri-food component but also internationally. The data for the last two years confirm the importance of the sector in terms of both production and the market, as Italy is in sixth place in the global ranking of countries that produce organic products in terms of area invested – reaching almost 2 million hectares – and market value. The quantity of sales generated in the Italian market is equal to € 4.089 billion.
The awareness of the potential benefits of the organic method – above all of an environmental nature – is growing and the demands for an expansion of the sector are increasing. The production structure is also getting stronger: producers and above all processors are growing, testifying to a sector that is becoming more mature.
As we can see from the Sinab chart, the organic surface area in Italy is almost 2 million ha, with an increase of 76% compared to 2010 and 2.6% compared to 2017.
The number of operators is over 79,000, with an increase of 66% compared to 2010 and 4.2% compared to 2017.
The percentage of organic agricultural land is 15.5% of the total (ISTAT SPA 2016). In 2010 it was 8.7% of the total agricultural land (2010 agricultural census).
The area invested in organic farming differs by region, the data collected by Bio in cifre 2019 give us the following picture:
• Sicily, Apulia, Calabria and Emilia-Romagna 51%
• Lazio, Tuscany, Sardinia and Basilicata 26%
• Marche, Campania, Lombardy and Piedmont 14%
• Umbria, Abruzzo, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Molise, Liguria, Valle d’Aosta 9%
The main plants that producers use for their land for organic cultivation are cereals, olive trees, vines, vegetables, nuts, citrus fruits and fruit in general. Cereals are in first place, with 326,000 ha of cultivation to date and about 195,000 in 2010. This table (source: Sinab) shows how this sector is expanding to include all food categories.
EXPORTS OF ORGANICS MADE IN ITALY
The role of exports is fundamental for Italian business. It’s well known that products Made in Italy are recognised and valued by the rest of the world for their quality, reliability and good taste.
In the period 2008-2018 exports of organics Made in Italy achieved a practically exponential growth of 597%.
The two countries most interested in our organic products are France and Germany, primarily buying agricultural products, wine, pasta and baked goods.
The main reasons why foreign companies tend to buy our product are as follows:
- Good value for money 27%
- Safe, controlled products 23%
- Taste and aroma 20%
- Valued company brand, company reliability 15%
As we can see, quality and reliability are the traits that distinguish products Made in Italy.
ITALIANS AND ORGANICS: how demand has changed
The SANA chart below considers data for the current year and explains how in the last decade Italian families’ demand for organic products has grown radically. In fact, in 2012 the percentage of families who bought organic products at least once is 53%, with an exponential growth of 86% today.
For consumers, key considerations when buying food are value for money, high quality in general and products from value chains that are tracked, certified and controlled. Therefore, choosing an organic product does not just mean buying a high quality product, but rather a set of values and guarantees.
The demand for organic products is also driven by consumers’ growing interest in physical well-being and protecting the environment.
In the first half of 2019, the distribution of consumption in Italy was well defined, with a predominance in northern Italy, with 36% in the north-west and 27% in the north-east, and a decrease towards central and southern Italy (25% Central and Sardinia, 12% South and Sicily).
However, there was also a higher propensity to buy compared to the previous year in southern Italy, even if more modest, where the comparison with the first half of 2018 shows an increase of 7.6% in the Central-Sardinian area and 7.0% in the South-Sicily region.
ITALIAN GROCERY SHOPPING: how has the organic share of the shopping cart grown?
Italian consumers’ organic shopping cart is packed with foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to fresh eggs and meat, especially poultry. Consumers prefer extra virgin olive oil and don’t go without a good glass of wine, but sales of oil and certified wine still have space for growth.
Among the most popular products:
• +18.8% poultry
• +6.7% breakfast cereals
• +4.1% fresh 4th range vegetables
97% of Italian families buy organic products (only 62% declare it), 78% of organic consumption is attributable to 30% of regular buyers, 3 million shop for organic products in specialised stores.
The drivers of choice are not just the product but also the point of sale. There are numerous channels to sell these products. Consumers tend to prefer one point of sale over another for many reasons, in particular reliability, choice and cost.
Specialised stores are considered the best channel for purchasing organic food products and are generally chosen for their assortment of the best and healthiest products. Direct sales from organic producers are of greater interest to families with children up to 6 years of age and young people in general (up to 44 years old). A portion of consumers also buys its organic food from supermarkets and hypermarkets, albeit to a lesser extent.
In short, this overview of the data shows that more and more Italian families are attentive to the quality of life and consequently prefer organic food, where transparency and quality are “guaranteed”.
This is certainly not a passing fashion, but rather a global change of needs and requirements. We must therefore be ready to fully meet the new demands of the market.