It is vital that market opportunities for organic Irish produce are increased, Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett said at the opening of Biofach in Nuremberg, Germany.

These opportunities, she said, were important both at home and abroad.

"Right now is a pivotal time for the organic sector in Ireland. As we continue to grow organic output in Ireland, it is vital that we increase the market opportunities for organic Irish produce," she said.

Seven Irish exporters of organic seafood, dairy and meat are exhibiting on the Origin Green Ireland stand, taking place on the first day of a Government-led organic trade mission to Germany.

Valuable presence

Speaking on the opening day of Biofach, Bord Bia interim chief executive Michael Murphy said that the Irish presence at this flagship organic event is valuable in building awareness of Ireland’s growing organic sector among key trade buyers.

"To support the long-term development of the Irish organic sector, Bord Bia will use this trade mission and our presence at Biofach to deepen commercial relationships and increase our understanding of the organic market in Germany," Murphy said.

Market growth

A series of meetings with leading German organic retailers and food manufacturers will take place on Tuesday to further grow the market for Irish organic exports, Murphy added.

Minister Hackett added that deepening trade relationships and increasing market understanding through this trade mission is essential.

"By continuing to build the reputation of Ireland as a trusted supplier of organic produce, we can realise the potential of organically grown food, drink and horticulture across Ireland," she said.

Currently, Ireland’s organically farmed area is approximately 2% of our total agricultural area.

Under the programme for Government, the aim is to increase organic farmland to 7.5% by 2027, this target is 30% for the European Union.

Bord Bia will present the results of an in-depth study into opportunities for Irish organic produce in the Nordic region

According to Bord Bia, it is on track to deliver several projects in the autumn to best support this future growth in Irish organic production.

These include a project to quantify the volume of Irish organic produce available for both the domestic retail sector, and for export, within each category.

Meanwhile, in early autumn, Bord Bia will present the results of an in-depth study into opportunities for Irish organic produce in the Nordic region, building on an investment in a similar study focusing on the German market in 2021.

The Little Milk Company, Glenisk, Good Herdsmen (Processing) Ltd, Irish Seaspray Ltd, The Irish Organic Salmon Co (MOWI), Quinlan’s Fish and Connemara Organic Seaweed Company were the seven Irish companies in attendance, all of which export to Germany.

Value of the European organic market

In Europe, a study examined opportunities in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The cumulative organic market in these eight countries was valued at €27.7bn in 2020, growing from €19.5bn in 2015.

Fruit and veg accounted for the largest share, at just over one third of total value, followed by dairy at 19.3% and eggs 11.4%, with beef, seafood and lamb all accounting for less than 10% share collectively.

However, beef was the fastest growing category, having grown by 8.7% annually since 2015.

Across these markets, imported organic produce accounted for 18% of the total organic market in 2020.