Some sectors of the Scandinavian organic food industry are approaching maturity, but the organic fresh fruit market continues to show robust growth, according to a new report from Organic Monitor. Total sales of organic fruit have been increasing by over 40 per cent per annum since 1997 to reach €40 million in 2001.
The Danish market is the largest in the region, according to the report, and organic fruit has been widely available to Danish consumers since the mid 1990s. However, its market share remains very small, estimated at 1.5 per cent of the fruit market in 2001.
In contrast, the highest growth in organic fruit sales is in Sweden and Finland, with consumer demand rising at more than 100 per cent in some Finnish supermarkets last year. This is partly because it is rising from a low base - organic fruit was introduced relatively late in Finnish stores - and comes in spite of a decline in the number of organic farmers from 5,225 to 4,915 in 2001.
Organic Monitor said that Scandinavia had the highest percentage of organic farmland in Europe, but that almost no organic fruit was grown there. The harsher weather conditions in Northern Europe are partly to blame for this, but the study also suggests that many farmers are put off by the high standards required for organic production.
Because of this, most organic fruit is imported from Southern Europe, with many tropical varieties originating from Latin America. However, the organic exotic category is projected to show the highest growth in the region as the supermarkets continue to broaden their organic fruit range.