Even if Romania has a low production of organic products compared to other European countries, the lack of processing units makes it an important player on the global market. The organic industry estimates that around 80 percent of the organic food production is exported as raw materials in absence of a sizeable internal demand, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says in a recent report.
“Romania is both a market and competitor for United States. Romania is a relatively small organic producer in terms of percentage of land converted or undergoing the conversion process to organic land and in the percentage of organic sales within total retail sales. (…) Romania is a market for imported organic products which in general consist of processed foods and high-value products. Organic domestic production is estimated at USD 250-270 million,” USDA shows.
According to some industry sources, the organic food consumer market was estimated in 2014 at USD 33 million, while two years later in 2016 the estimate rose to USD 45 million. In total food retail, organic food sales percentage stagnate below one percent, which is low compared to other EU member states where the percentage exceeds 5 percent (Germany).
The American agriculture department appreciates that the organic agriculture is becoming increasingly important in Romania in terms of both supply and consumer demand. Romania has favorable conditions for organic production in terms of natural conditions, soil, and climate. Demand for certain organic food products rose spectacularly, such as dairy and baby food, while for other products, such as rice and oils, growth was limited.
The lack of processing facilities forces Romanian organic producers to find export markets so a large volume of organic production is exported. Additionally, rising consumer demand and a limited range of domestic organic products in the Romanian market triggers more imports in terms of both product quality range and selection of products.
“The main challenges facing the organic sector in Romania that hinder faster development are the lack of advanced processing facilities, a lack of consumer awareness regarding the benefits of organic foods, a lack of consumer trust in organic products due to previous false or Even if Romania has a low production of organic products compared to other European countries, the lack of processing units makes it an important playermisleading claims, limited range of products, and organic product affordability for certain consumer segments,” USDA remarks.
According to Eurostat data, the percentage of area under organic farming of total farming area in Romania dropped to 1.78 percent in 2015 from 2.1 percent in 2012. This percentage is low compared to the EU average of 6 percent.
Organic production area followed the same trend, declining in 2015 by 18 percent to 245,924 hectares from the record area of 301,148 hectares in 2013. The area figures include both areas fully converted and under conversion to organic farming. In 2015 fully converted area represented 71 percent of the total organic area.