Dutch still lag behind in organic farming, but supermarket sales are on the rise


Organic pears on a farm near Edam. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Netherlands continues to lag behind other European countries when it comes to organic farming, industry organization Bionext said in its annual report.

Only 4.1% of arable land in the Netherlands was certified organic in 2020, slightly more than the previous year when 3.8% was devoted to a more sustainable way of food production.

Some 74,000 hectares are currently cultivated organically, an area about three times the size of Amsterdam. Organic horticulture saw the biggest increase while the cultivation of organic flowers and plants jumped 17% from 2019.

The Netherlands is still far behind other European countries, where an average of 8.5% of agricultural land is used for organic farming. Under the terms of the EU’s Green Deal, 25% of European agriculture must be organic by 2030, but so far Austria is the only European country doing its part to meet the target.

Organic products are slowly gaining popularity in Dutch supermarkets, however, with sales up almost 13% last year. Milk, yogurt and eggs are the best-selling items, along with products with a longer shelf life, an increase possibly caused by coronavirus-related storage.

The reason the Netherlands is slow to catch up with its neighbors is the continued focus of supermarkets on prices, retail expert Paul Moers told Bionext.

The emphasis on price has a lot to do with our culture. We Dutch are eternal traders and the emphasis is on paying as little as possible, ”he said.If we want to stimulate the organic market, we need to discuss other aspects besides the price, and supermarkets should take more responsibility in this regard. ‘

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