Author: Dr Jaakko Nuutila, Natural Resources Institute Finland, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,www.luke.fi">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

finnishThe Finnish organic food system has had the same development phases as many other countries producing or consuming organic food, but the current volume of production and the market share is lagging severely behind the best-performing European Union countries. Finnish authorities set several development programmes with quantitative goals for the growth of the organic sector, the latest for 2020.

 

The consumers’ growing interest toward organically produced food enabled the mainstream retailers to increase their assortment of organic products, providing consumers better access to organic products.

 

Until 2010 the organic products were mainly considered as “service products” for demanding consumers. Positive market development in Nordic countries and consumers increased interest in Finland as well. The consumers, who buy the most organic products, also buy them more often from specialty shops and directly from the farms.

 

Organic farms and production

In 2017 the share of organic from total agricultural area was 11.7 % with an increase of 10 % from 2016 and the largest shares were in North Karelia, Kainuu, South Savonia and North Ostrobothnia (27.1%, 24.1%, 15.8% and 14.9%, respectively). The average farm size was 56.8 ha and the number of organic farms was 4,641. There were 83 other companies in primary production, such as greenhouses, beehives and mushroom cultivation. The largest share of farmland was for grass and for oats (65% and 15%, respectively). Other plants were rye, wheat, barley, peas, fava beans and turnip rape. Animal production was concentrated in 2016 on bovines: under 8 months old (561 farms), heifers (538 farms), calvers (504 farms), bovines (538 farms), sheep (344 farms), hens (48 farms) and beehives (63 farms). There were minor amounts of farms with pigs, poultry and broiler chickens. Finland has the largest organic certified wild collection area in the world. Where forests cover 86% of the land area in Finland, approximately half of that (13 M ha) is certified organic area. There are 37 edible berries and lingonberry, bilberry and cloudberry have the highest commercial value. Only a small share of wild mushrooms is utilized commercially.

 

Organic consumer markets

The development of the organic market has been rapid during the last years, The organic market in Finland was worth 273 million euros in 2016 and trade specialists evaluate that organic food sales will have increased to 410 million euros by 2020. The market share of organic products is 2%, but varies greatly between product categories. When the retail companies dominate

the markets and widen the food margin they, on the other hand, enable an efficient distribution of organic products around the country

 

 

Governmental goal for year 2020

 

The current government programme aims at a 20% organic share of agricultural land, sufficient production for domestic markets, tripled organic markets in comparison to 2013 and 10% organic share in 2015 and 20% organic share in governmental catering by 2020 (MMM 2014). The aim of the current programme is to produce products that are not harmful to the environment or to the welfare and health of humans, plants and animals (MMM 2014). The same arguments have been presented in other programmes also.

 

The earlier goals have not been reached and following the current development trend, it is highly unlike that the current goals could be reached either. In the current government goal for the year 2020, the share of organic agriculture area is set to 20%. The increase from 2016 to 2017 was 10 %, but to reach the goal, a 19.6 % annual increase is still needed for the remaining years. The market development shows as well the increasing trend, although it has been slower than expected. The goal set for the organic markets from year 2014 to 2020, with the current development trend, requires an annual increase of 25.5 % for the remaining years.

 

The future growth of organics in Finland

 

With its Nordic location and pure nature, Finland offers exeptional facilities for superior organic production leading to excellent organic export opportunities. To meet the current official and future organic development goals the several obstacles and challenges found in various areas of the Finnish food system have to be discussed openly and addressed. Multi-disciplinary research is needed to recognize the phenomena behind various reasons for slow development of the organic in the whole value chain. It is crucial to have the courage to change the model for providing information about externalities of food systems from subjective to science-based. Food chain-level collaboration is needed to enhance agreement to mutual rules and fairness of the activity of the food system. During 2018 the Finnish organic action plan will be updated. This will provides a good opportunity for multi-stakeholder discussions about the vision and measures for Finland to reach Organic 3.0.