F.P. Weibel, A. Häseli, O. Schmid, H. Willer
Organic fruit growing in Europe has experienced remarkable growth rates since the mid 1990's. Southern states, especially Italy, Spain and France have the largest land area with organic fruit, are also growing olives, citrus and chestnuts. Mainly increasing interest of supermarket chains is responsible for this buoyancy, but also the availability of better plant protection products e.g. granulosis virus and mating disruption against codling moth, and Neem oil against Rosy Apple Aphid. State subsidies varying from 600 to more than 1600 Euro /ha/y in the EU-countries (15) are less decisive for the conversion of top fruit production. Market share of organic table fruit is only 1 to 2 %, reaching 4 to 5 % in Switzerland. For Switzerland, we estimate a market potential of around 12 to 15 %, which is already achieved with organic vegetables. In order to reach that percentage, better solutions for several key problems have to be found, e.g. control of scab, fire blight, sooty blotch, brown rot, weed management, fertilisation and crop load regulation. Also the assortment of organically produced “modern-standard” varieties is not satisfactory, in particular with stone fruit.
The economics of organic fruit growing is comparatively healthy, however, it depends on receiving a one third higher farm gate price for the product. In Switzerland the benefit of organic orchards is 16 % higher compared to integrated fruit production; but labour hours exceed those of IFP by 7%, due to blossom thinning by hand, manual weed control and mice control.
Supermarkets have a tendency to just “substitute” conventional with organic fruit if requiring organic fruit from disease susceptible varieties with no cosmetic blemishes. This can/does feed back to the growers resulting in “substitutional” production with disease and pest sensitive orchards managed with intensive “organic” spray and fertilisation programs. This certainly does not correspond with either the original concept of organic farming or with expectations of organic consumers. Thus, still a lot of development - also on the marketing side - has to be undertaken.
Weibel, F.P., Häseli, A., Schmid, O. and Willer, H. (2004). PRESENT STATUS OF ORGANIC FRUIT GROWING IN EUROPE. Acta Hortic. 638, 375-385
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.638.49
fruit, organic, Europe, production, economics, market

Acta Horticulturae