KEY INDICATORS 2012¹
• Organic agricultural area: 197751 hectares²
• Organic operators: 4701
• Retail sales: EUR 202 million
HISTORY OF ORGANIC FARMING
• 1918: First documented, intentional farm conversion to organic production (natural agriculture)
• 1927: First biodynamic farm
• 1946: The Finnish Bio-dynamic Society is founded
• 1930s: Artturi Virtanen develops the AIV-System, a cultivation method which includes crop rotation with intensive red clover leys and pastures and bread grains.
• 1985: Finnish Association for Organic Farming Luomuliitto is founded
• 1990: State programme for financial support for conversion to organic is launched
• 1995 Finland becomes a member of the EU, and many farms convert to organic farming
• 2011: Founding of Pro Luomu, an association for the marketing of organic products
• 2013: The Organic Production Development Programme is launched
KEY SECTOR INSTITUTIONS
• Evira, Finnish Food Safety Authority: www.evira.fi
• Finnish Association for Organic Farming Luomuliitto: www.luomuliitto.fi/in-english/
• Finnish Biodynamic Association: www.biodyn.fi
• Organic Food Finland, export and trade in organic products: www.organic-finland.com
• Pro Luomu, marketing support and promotion: www.proluomu.fi
PRODUCTION BASE: LAND USE AND CROPS
70 % of the agricultural land (2011) is used for arable crops (131 000 hectares); 1.9 % is permanent grassland and grazing areas (3 600 hectares), and 0.3 % is permanent crops (560 hectares). The main arable crops are green fodder from arable land (79 500 hectares), followed by cereals (39 143 hectares), and protein crops (8 145 hectares). The main permanent crops are berries (430 hectares), followed by fruit (88 hectares). Finland has the world‘s largest non-agricultural organic area. There is a specialised certification system for organic wild products in Finland. In 2011, the most popular products were blueberries and lingonberries. The collection area, mostly in the northern part of Finland, covers about 7 million hectares. Organic wild berries comprise roughly 20 % of all collected wild berries in Finland.
The organic market has developed rapidly in recent years, after having lagged behind the rest of Western Europe. The market grew by 46 % in 2011 and 24 % in 2012. According to Pro Luomu, the value of the Finnish organic market was EUR 202 million in 2012. Nevertheless, the overall market share of organic food in Finland is slightly lower than 2 %.
Top-selling products: The market share varies greatly between product categories. The highest market shares have been reached for eggs and vegetable oils. Market shares with over 3 % have been reached for root vegetables, tea, fresh milk, flour, flakes, ketchup, and soya sauces. Based on value, the most important organic product in retail sales is fresh milk.
Market channels: According to the Nielsen Company, 82 % of the organic products were sold in mainstream retail channels in 2012. This leaves 18 % to other types of outlets: speciality stores, open markets, direct sales etc. While this is a small part of the total sales, it is proportionately far higher than for overall food sales and underlines the importance of the alternative marketing channels in the organic sector.
Exports and imports: Organic product exports were estimated to be EUR 14 million in 2009. This represented 1 % of Finnish food exports. The most important Finnish export products originate from the grain sector (oats and oat flakes, wheat flour and bread). There are no statistics on organic imports, but it can be estimated that the share of imported products on the Finnish organic market is around 30 %. This includes raw-material imports and products imported as ready retail packed products.
STANDARDS, LEGISLATION, ORGANIC LOGO
A nationwide inspection system for organic production was first established by Luomuliitto in 1986. In July 1994, the responsibility for organising the inspection of organic plant production was given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Presently, the EU legislation on organic farming is implemented by Statue No 846/2008, while the control system is entirely based on designated public inspection authorities.
The national label Luomu – Valvottua tuotantoa /Kontrollerad ekoproduktion (Certified Organic Production) is granted by Evira to operators whose production has been controlled by the Finnish public inspection authorities.
National action plan: The Organic Production Development Programme, launched by the Finnish Government in May 2013, aims to get at least 20 % of the cultivated area farmed organically by the 2020. This goal has already been surpassed in the provinces of Aland, Kainuu and North Karelia.
Support under the EU rural development programme: Organic farmers in Finland receive support through different rural development measures.
Other policy support: Organic agriculture was one of the examples of the sub-tasks assigned by the Country Brand Delegation, appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2010. The delegation proposed that the emphasis of Finnish agriculture should increasingly be shifted to organic production. The goal is for organic production to account for at least one half of overall production by 2030. Launched in 2013, the Finnish Organic Research Institute is one of the concrete results of the process.
RESEARCH & ADVICE
Research projects are carried out in a number of research units of the state research station MTT, the Agrifood Research Center, and, most notably, in the research centre of Mikkeli, in south-eastern Finland. Research into organic production focuses on the nutrient economy, production techniques and local food systems. The Finnish Organic Research Institute was launched in 2013. It is a multidisciplinary research organisation founded by University of Helsinki and the Agrifood Research Center MTT. The main idea of the institute is to support the whole food chain and promote organic food production in Finland through research, science communication, education, and development projects. The fields of research cover the whole food chain.
The advisory service for organic farming is coordinated and developed by the Association of Rural Advisory Centres. Practical advisory work is carried out by 16 regional advisory centres, which have about 50 advisors specialised in organic farming, usually in plant production. In addition to the Rural Advisory Centres, Luomuliitto and the Finnish Biodynamic Association provide advisory services for organic farming.
CHALLENGES & OUTLOOK
At present, the Finnish organic sector enjoys a favourable climate in terms of market conditions and the public attitude to organic products. Even the farmers see organic production as a viable option for the new European rural development programming period, starting in 2014. The rising cost of artificial fertilisers and animal feeds are an additional factor encouraging farmers to consider converting to organic production.
• Organic Eprints for Finland: www.orgprints.org/view/projects/fi.html
• Magazine of the Union of Organic Farming: www.luomuliitto.fi/luomulehti/Luomulehti
• News about organic production in Finland: www.luomu.fi
• Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Organic production statistics: www.maataloustilastot.fi/en/organic-production-statistics
• Information about Finnish companies exporting organic food: www.foodfromfinland.com/products/company_listing/organic
For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.
Written by Sampsa Heinonen, Senior Officer, M.Sc. (Agr.), The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, sampsa.heinonen [at] evira.fi , www.evira.fi
¹Area and operator data: Evira and Eurostat; market data: Pro Luomu.
²In addition to the agricultural land, there are 7 million hectares of wild collection areas.
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