Organic protected horticulture in the world

M. Dorais, A. Cull
Land under organic farming has increased worldwide fourfold since 1999, reaching around 43 million ha in 2014, while organic horticulture farming has doubled during the last decade, representing 1.33 million ha of cultivated organic land. In response to increasing demand for organic products, sales of organic foods have increased fivefold between 1999 and 2014, reaching 80 billion US dollars. In the USA, the biggest organic market (35.9 billion US dollars of retail sales) grew by more than 11% in 2014 over 2013, while in Europe an increase of 7.6% was observed with 26.2 billion euros of retail sales. The growing popularity of organic food products is driven by health values and safety issues (e.g., pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, GMOs), environmental benefits and equity concerns. Although the demand for fruits and vegetables is around 30 to 40% of the global demand, the total area under organic vegetable production is only 0.5% of the total area of vegetables grown in the world. Forty-five percent of the total vegetable organic farmland is in Europe, followed by North America (22%), Latin America (18%) and Asia (12%). The five countries with the largest organic vegetable areas are the United States (59,669 ha), Mexico (46,573 ha), Poland (26,664 ha), Italy (25,930 ha) and China (22,331 ha). Main crops are fresh beans and peas, leafy and stalked vegetables and fruit vegetables. The world greenhouse industry represents around 473,466 ha, with a 14% increase over 2015. The total area for organic greenhouse crops is estimated at over 8,302 ha (1.8% of total vegetable greenhouse area). Europe represents the main producing area with >5,236 ha (~2000 ha Spain; ~2,000 ha Italy, 500-600 ha France, 263 ha Germany, 125 ha The Netherlands, 80 ha UK, 57 ha Switzerland, 32 ha Belgium, 30 ha Austria, 49 ha Nordic), which is almost entirely used for fruit vegetables and lettuce. In non-EU countries, organic greenhouses cover 500 ha in Israel, 230 ha Morocco, 31 ha in Turkey, 30 ha in Egypt and more than 2,275 ha in North America, mainly located in Mexico. In the USA, organic protected vegetables cover 186 ha (farm sale value of 76.2 million US$), while in Canada 241 ha of heated greenhouse are organically certified, representing 15% of the total greenhouse vegetable area. In northern countries, organic protected production is often year-round conducted under high technology and heated greenhouses, while in the Mediterranean area greenhouse production is mainly done in unheated plastic greenhouses or high tunnels. Specific rules for organic greenhouse production were established by several countries such as the organic soilless growing systems in the United States, which is not allowed under EU organic regulation. Recent international reports and scientific literature highlight a number of economic and environmental benefits resulting from organic production systems.
Dorais, M. and Cull, A. (2017). Organic protected horticulture in the world. Acta Hortic. 1164, 9-22
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1164.2
glasshouse, greenhouse, organic vegetable, sustainability, organic productivity

Acta Horticulturae