Organic farming in Italy is still growing in terms of surfaces invested and number of operators involved, but it is showing the first signs of a downturn in consumption, as a reflection of the loss of purchasing power of families, aggravated by the inflationary pressure of recent months.
The Italian organic surface area increased by 4.4%, reaching almost 2.2 million hectares at the end of 2021.
Maintaining this growth rate in the coming years would allow it to reach 2.7 million hectares in 2027, the last year of the 2023-2027 CAP, and touch 3 million in 2030, a value close to the Farm to Fork target of 25%.
Among the various organic cultivations
Citrus groves are decreasing (oranges -17.2% and lemons -0.8%) and organic apple orchards (-0.4%) and olive groves (+0.5%) are substantially stable, while vineyards (+9.2%) and hazelnut groves (+12.5%) are increasing. Surfaces invested in cereals are also growing (+2.8%) mainly driven by increased investments in durum and soft wheat, while forage crops (-0.7%), meadows and pastures (-0.8%) are stable.
The analysis of organic zootechnics highlights some major critical issues for the development of the sector.
In the last three years the cattle, pig, sheep and goat stocks show almost stable levels, while the poultry sector (with particular reference to broiler chickens and laying hens) shows a positive dynamic.
Concerning certified organic operators
Data show a growth of more than 5% in 2021 compared to 2020, thanks to the 4,413 new members in the certification system, bringing the total number of organic producers, preparers and importers to 86,144. It is a confirmation of the great vitality of the sector despite the general economic uncertainties.
In contrast, in 2021, for the first time in Italy, there was a reduction in the purchase of organic food and beverages. After the excellent performance in 2020 (+9.5%), supported by an increased propensity of Italian households to buy wholesome and healthy food and by the lockdown, the value of expenditure in 2021 decreased by 4.6%, reaching EUR 3.38 billion.