The last few years have been a rollercoaster of emotions for organic farmers and the organic industry: first the Corona pandemic with the unprecedented boom in demand for organic food, then the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, including the energy crisis and inflation, which caused sales in the organic industry to fall again allowed to melt together. Meanwhile, the demand for organic food is increasing again. So far, it has been restrained, but across all segments, whether in natural food retailers, supermarkets or discounters. The organic scene is also looking to the future with confidence. “We are firmly expecting further growth,” says Thomas Lang, chairman of the State Association for Organic Farming in Bavaria (LVÖ), the umbrella organization of the four organic associations Bioland, Naturland, Biokreis and Demeter, before the Biofach trade fair in Nuremberg.
The mood among marketers is also good. “The dip has been overcome, the signals for the future are good,” says Jörg Große-Lochtmann, board member of the Naturland market company and therefore responsible for marketing all the crops, farm animals, milk, potatoes, fruit and vegetables that Naturland farmers produce on their farms. The organic milk expert at Bioland, Rüdiger Brügmann, is also in good spirits. “The organic milk market has been growing again since July 23,” he says. “Sales have not yet reached the level of 2021. But they were recently above those of 22.” From Brügmann's point of view, it is particularly positive that the proportions of domestic and imported organic milk are shifting – in favor of domestic organic milk. At the same time, Bavarian organic milk farmers recently received the second highest price ever paid to them for their organic milk, at 58.1 cents per liter.
Only organic farming itself is still lagging behind. According to LVÖ boss Lang, at the end of 2023, 7,676 farms in Bavaria were members of one of the four organic associations. That was a good 20 companies or 0.3 percent fewer than at the same time last year. The agricultural area that they farm organically has increased slightly – by around 10,000 hectares to almost 349,000 hectares. That's a good eleven percent of the entire agricultural land in Bavaria. This means that Bavaria is still clearly in first place in a country comparison. When it comes to organic milk, Bavarian organic farmers do even better. Traditionally, almost half of Germany's organic milk comes from organic farms in Bavaria. In 2023, organic farmers in the Free State milked a good 680 million liters of organic milk.
The state government's goal of 30 percent organic farming by 2030 is of course becoming more and more distant. “To do this, 60,000 hectares of agricultural land would have to be converted into organic farming every year,” says LVÖ boss Lang. “That is not in sight without a political signal.” Organic farmers have long been calling for an organic quota of 50 percent for public canteens, canteens and commercial kitchens. “There is a lot of untapped potential in out-of-home catering,” says Lang. Only one percent of the food used there is organic, but consumers' spending on meals away from home adds up to a third of their total food spending. The state government is, of course, reluctant. It has agreed to a 50 percent quota for its government canteens – but for food from regional or organic production and only from 2025. That's not enough for the organic scene.