Italy is a global leader for organic production.

In 2016, the total organic acreage was 1,795,650 hectares (+ 20.3% compared to 2015), accounting for an amazing 14.5% of the total national agricultural area, with 72,154 certified operators in the official control system (+ 20.3% compared to 2015).

55,567 of these are farms (+ 22.9%), 7,581 are companies dealing with processing and distribution activities, + 7%), 8,643 are farms that carry out both farming and processing activities (+ 17%).

In 2015, 65% of Italian organic farmers were under  50, 50% had a high school diploma, 17% had a degree, almost 30% were women.

Organic is the most growing sector of the entire Italian agri-food sector.

In the domestic market, mainstream supermarkets are the most important channel: in the rolling year ending on July 2017, sales amounted to EUR 1.4 billion (+ 16.7% compared to 2015, since 2008 sales are growing at a double digits rate).

In the specialized organic stores' channel, sales amounted to 0.92 billion, another one billion euros came from other channels (direct sales, farmer's market, on-line, traditional retail and food service. To be noted:  in accordance with a national law, at least 40% of foodstuffs in public food service (nurseries, schools, hospitals) has to be organic. In 2016, 23 out of 100 new SKUs  introduced in the market had been organic.

In the first six months of 2017, 78% of Italian households bought at least once organic products (+1 million households since 2016). 47% of Italians aged 18 to 65 eat organics at least once a week,

The main reasons to buy are: greater safety and health 76%. 34% better quality, environmentally friendly 29%, satisfying assortment 29%, better taste 18%.

If domestic market figures are amazing, export value is 1.95 billion EUR (+ 16% compared to 2015), placing Italy at the top spot in EU ranking: about 35% of Italian organic products is exported.

Organic have a share around 5% of the total exports of Italian food, their value has been fivefold since 2008.

The main export countries are Germany (about EUR 350 million), France (about EUR 350 million), Benelux (about 210 million), Scandinavia (around 175 million), US (about 160 million), followed by Austria, Spain, Eastern Europe, Switzerland, Canada, other third countries (together some 160 million) and other European countries (together about 100 million).

41% of sales is covered by own brands products, 22% by products with supermarkets’ private label,  17% by products with organic distributors’ private label,, 19% by raw materials and semi-finished products

The most exported products (in value) are fruit and vegetables, non-dairy beverages, cereals and flours, bakery products, wine, feed and related products, meat, extra virgin olive oil and seed oils, jams and marmalades, cheese & dairy, pasta and similar, vegetable preserves, processed tomatoes.

According to a survey carried out by Nomisma research institute among organic exporters, they believe that strength of their products are: valued brands and reliability of the company (27%), organoleptic quality (26%), Italian origin (19%), traceability and other guarantees (12%), innovation (6%), price (5%), additional certifications (2%), packaging (1%).

Climate of confidence is high: no Italian organic company expects a reduction in exports.

Markets to bet on? First place is the EU (28 countries), the second is USA, the third is Canada, then China, Japan, Switzerland, Central and South America, South Korea, Russia, Middle East.

In September 2018, the thirtieth edition of SANA, the International Exhibition of Organic

Foods and Natural Products (the first in Europe) will be held in Bologna, ICE-the Italian Trade Agency and FederBio, the sole Italian organic industry federation, will organize an incoming program for foreign operators, who will find the best suppliers among over 900 exhibitors of all categories of organic products.

Foreign friends who are interested in this business opportunity are invited to contact to our desk or to the local ICE-ITA office.