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The organic market in the Netherlands.

History The history of organic agriculture started in the 1920s with the first biodynamic farm in Zeeland, Loverendale. In 1993, a new organisation for the entire sector was founded: Platform Biologica, today Biologica. Since 1996 there has been government policy focusing on increasing the demand and supply of organic products; the third action plan is currently in place. Production base Agriculture in the Netherlands is normally very intensive. The main branches of production are fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants and cattle farming. Within the agricultural sector, organic farming plays only a modest role compared to neighbouring countries. In the 1990s, as in most European countries, organic farming began to grow in the Netherlands. In 2009, 1,413 organic farms managed a total of 51,911 hectares, corresponding to 2.7 percent of total farmland (Biologica 2010). About 90 percent of organic agricultural land was fully converted. The average farm size in organic agriculture is 36.7 hectares. Since 2000, organic land has grown by 60 percent (Eurostat 2010). Seventy percent of organic agricultural land in 2009 was grassland, 12,500 hectares was arable land and almost 600 hectares permanent cropland. The key crop groups are cereals (5460 hectares) and vegetables (including potatoes) and fruits (6,290 hectares) (Biologica 2010). Government support From 1992 until 2004, the government provided area based payments for organic farming under the EUs rural development schemes. Since 2006, these payments were replaced by a subsidy for part of the certification cost for organic farms. A government plan of action has set the goal of ten percent of agricultural area being managed to organic standards by 2010. By the end of 2007 it was clear, however, that these ambitions could not be realised. In the latest policy document for the period 2008-2011, the Ministry formulated the following ambitions for the development of the organic sector: annual growth of ten percent in consumer spending on organic products; annual growth of five percent of the organic agricultural land; standard allocation to the organic sector of ten percent of the budget for policy support research and statutory research tasks.

Market development is facilitated by the Taskforce Market Development for Organic Agriculture. An important objective of the Task force is to increase the sales of organic produce. This taskforce organises consumer campaigns, supports retailers in their marketing efforts and promotes export and import of organic produce. Moreover, the organisation has a role in balancing supply and demand considering the current shortage in the supply of organic produce (Sukkel & Hommes 2009).

The market In 2009, organic sales amounted to about 590 million euros (excluding catering and large kitchens), while the share of organic products in the total food market was about 2.3 percent (Biologica 2010). In 2009, the average per capita consumption was 36 euros and thus lower than in the neighbouring countries. Over the last decade, consumer spending on organic produce has grown 8.5 percent annually on average. International sales of organic produce are also still increasing. However, since 2004, the number of organic farms has declined and the total organic acreage has almost stabilised. This development has caused a shortage in the supply of organic produce in recent years (Sukkel and Hommes 2010).