Organic bananas are a fairly recent item to enter the world market, and
although they represent less than one percent of all banana sales, demand has been growing
at 20 to 30 percent annually. Major importers are Germany, France, the UK, the United
States, Canada and Japan. Major exporting countries include the Dominican Republic,
Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Israel. Global imports for 1998 are
estimated at 27,000 tonnes compared with >11 million tonnes for all bananas. A breakout
of imports is summarized in the following table.
Organic Banana Imports - 1998
Exporting Countries & Percent of Market Supplied
Total Europe ..................................
dried: several hundred
Dominican Republic (80%)
Dominican Republic (50%)
Demand for organic bananas is expected to remain strong and continue
growing. In Europe especially, mainstream supermarkets are behind the surge in demand as
they search for higher volume, uniformity and a more constant supply. However, there are
constraints to increased production:
-- Prevalence of a pathogenic soil fungus not effectively treatable with
-- Higher labor costs, and cultural requirements more suited to small and
medium-sized farmers than to large-scale growers;
-- Difficulties maintaining soil fertility without synthetic fertilizers;
-- High costs and risks during the transition period from conventional to
-- Logistical problems such as higher per-unit freight charges due to low
* This analysis reflects information from "The Market
for 'Organic' and 'Fair Trade' Bananas," FAO, February 1999.
Organic Farming in Poland
Currently, about 500 farms in Poland are certified
organic or are in transition to organic production methods. Total area in organic
production is about 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) or 0.3% of Polands total arable
land. The average organic farm is 12-15 hectares (30-37 acres), which is slightly larger
than the average conventional farm, although organic farms larger than 100 hectares (247
acres) do exist.
Three organizations certify organic production in
Poland: Ekoland, the Polish Association of Organic Farming, and ROL-EKO. Currently,
certification by Polish organizations is not accepted for exports destined for the EU.
Since 1991, Dutch certifier SKAL has certified some Polish farms, and negotiations have
begun with French and Germany certifiers to provide this service. Observers believe there
is potential for organics to grow in Poland, particularly to supply the EU market, but
improvements are needed in volume produced, packaging and marketing. So far, exports have
consisted of black currants, strawberries, onions, dried vegetables, chicory-grain coffee,
and frozen fruits and vegetables to Germany and the Netherlands.
The government of Poland supports organic
agriculture with subsidies that cover the cost of certification (US$25-75). This year, a
new subsidy will assist existing and transitioning producers at the rate of US$16-24 per
acre). Organic legislation, patterned on existing EU regulations, is being developed.
Source: Attache Report PL9011.
The report also includes a translation of Ekolands organic standards.
Organics in Brazil
Starting from a small base, Brazils organic
production has grown at a rate of 20% over the last two years according to industry
sources. About 10% of Brazils total cultivated area (50 million hectares, or 124
million acres) is under "alternative" agricultural production methods, but less
than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) are certified organic and in commercial production
now. Brazilian farmers are becoming more interested in organics for several reasons: the
high cost of agricultural chemicals (Brazil imports about half of what they use); the
lower costs associated with organic production methods; organic premiums that can range
20-50% above conventional prices; burgeoning consumer demand for organic products at home
and overseas; and concerns about the environment.
Brazils major organic exports are soybeans,
sugar and frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ). Projected production of organic
soybeans for the 1999/00 season is 7,000 metric tons, up nearly 120% from the previous
year. Major markets are Germany and Japan. Organic sugar exports for 1999 are expected to
total 4,000 metric tons in 1999. Company officials claim that this represents one third of
the world market for organic sugar. Organic orange production grew 233% from 1998/99
production levels of 450 thousand 40.8-kilogram boxes to an estimated 1.5 million boxes
for the 1999/00 marketing year. The organic orange crop, which is produced by 400 small
farmers and represents 5% of the national orange production, is destined for the EU market
in the form of FOJC. Other exports include palm oil, tobacco, coffee, fruit pulp, malt and
Domestic demand for organic products is beginning
to expand as well. Approximately 80% of the organic food sold in Brazil moves through
supermarkets, and items in highest demand are fresh fruits and vegetables, and
refrigerated processed foods. American organic products are virtually unknown in Brazil as
most organic imports come from the EU and Argentina.
In October 1998, the Brazilian government
published proposed organic national standards. The final version is expected to be
The Winter 1999 issue of USDAs Small
Farm Digest has an informative article of interest to all
producersregardless of sizewho are thinking about advertising on the Internet.
The article can help producers decide if the Internet is appropriate for their operations,
and lists basic decisions that need to be made and tips on how to get started using this
latest form of direct consumer marketing.
Internet advertising reaches the world community
and can be the entry point for U.S. producers to the export market. As noted in the
article, for example, a fruit producer from Utah said that since advertising on the
Internet, customer orders have increased, some from as far away as Australia and Europe.
FASs Horticultural & Tropical Products
Divisionorganics web sitehas been expanded and given a new look. In addition to the
monthly Organic Perspectives newsletter, and links to articles published by FAS,
the new home page features a direct link to attache reports from around the
globe that relate to organics. Also included are links to other agencies and programs, and
to USDA press releases relating to the National Organic Program.
The newsletter contains reports on organics from around the world gleaned
from attache reports, trips made by HTPs organics staff, and other sources. The
newsletter also covers items of interest about the U.S. national organic program and the
domestic organic industry. A list of upcoming conferences, trade shows and other events is
included in every issue.
(For further information, contact Janise
Zygmont (analysis) at 202-720-1176 or Kelly Strzelecki (marketing) at 202-690-1341.)