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MAY 2019
MAY 2019
Organic growth
In March 2018, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Andrew
Doyle T.D., established an Organic Sector Strategy Group tasked with developing a strategy for the
development of the Organic Food Sector for the period up to 2025.
This period coincides with the Food Wise 2025 Strategy
which is the over-arching strategy for the Irish food and
drink sector. The Group comprised of representatives
of State Bodies, farming organisations, Organic Control
Bodies and a wide range of stakeholders including the
organic meat, dairy, horticulture, cereals and aquaculture
While the primary aim of this Group was to develop a
new Organic Strategy, it was also tasked with carrying
out an assessment on a targeted reopening of the Organic
Farming Scheme. The Group considered that there was
sufficient market demand to justify the reopening of the
Organic Farming Scheme on a targeted basis focussing
on areas that are in deficit and where market demand
is growing. Based on the Group's recommendations,
Minister Doyle re-opened the Organic Farming Scheme in
November 2018 and received 225 applications before the
closing date.
The Irish Organic Retail market is worth 162 million
with a further 44 million generated by direct sales.
The market for organic food in Ireland grew by 10.5
per cent in 2017. This mirrors a growing trend right
across Europe and underlines the opportunities for
increased production of organic food products. The
formulation of the Strategic Plan by the Organic Strategy
Group was enhanced by the extensive response to the
public consultation process combined with an organic
processors' survey. The strategy builds on previous
iterations, most recently the Organic Farming Action
Plan 2013-2015, and recognises the growing role which
the organic sector can play in the Irish food and drink
story. The objective of the strategy is to develop a viable
Organic Food Sector in Ireland producing a wide range
of organic products to meet the ever increasing domestic
and export markets opportunities. It sets out measurable
strategic objectives for each subsector and incorporates
actions considered essential to further support industry's
development and achieve growth targets. This aligns the
strategic growth plans of the Organic sector with the
broader FoodWise 2025 Strategy.
The Strategy accordingly sets measurable strategic
objectives for each sub-sector up to 2025. To achieve
these objectives there are 27 overarching cross-sectoral
actions and a range of sector specific actions. These are
the actions that were considered as necessary to further
support the industry's development and achieve the
growth targets to progress the sector. Responsibility for
the implementation of these actions and achievement
of targets set are assigned to industry, Department of
Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Government agencies
and other stakeholders as appropriate.
A good strategy is based on baseline data and the Group
noted the challenge involved in distinguishing the
impacts and scale of the organic sector from broader food
and drink sectors. It has consequently recommended a
renewed focus on developing sector specific statistics
and improved value chain analysis at producer, processor
and retail level, to allow for more targeted strategic
actions in the future.
The objectives established for the specific sub-sectors
acknowledge the importance of promoting organic food
production not alone having regard to market demand
but with due consideration to climate change mitigation
and biodiversity protection. However, the targets
recognise the current very low production levels and are
intended to provide a platform for further increases. In
this context the Organic Strategy Group considered that
the targets should be subject to review after five years.
Sectoral targets within this new Organic Strategy are:
Cereals & Pulses:
Increase the area under organic cereals
and pulses from 2,426 hectares in 2017 to 5,000 hectares.
Increase organic milk production annually by 10
per cent over the lifetime of the Strategy
Increase the area under organic
horticulture from 524 hectares in 2017 to 750 hectares.
Increase organic cattle production from 0.8 per
cent of total cattle in 2016 to 1.6 per cent.
Maximise organic sales to match current levels
and pattern of supply.
Increase the quantity of salmon produced
to organic standards from 20,000 tonnes to 26,000
Increase the area under organic cereals
and pulses will impact positively on the potential for
increased organic poultry.
On 29th January 2019, when launching this new seven-
year Organic Strategy for the Development of the
Organic Sector, Minister Doyle said: "I firmly believe
that the future is bright for organic food and farming in
Ireland. It is a leading sector in the on-going debate about
sustainable food production of which this Government is
fully supportive.
In keeping with FoodWise 2025, the Group agreed that
the Strategy needs a verifiable implementation process
and recommended the establishment of a specific
Organic Food Strategy Implementation Group. This has
now been established to drive the implementation of
this Strategy. The inaugural meeting of the new Organic
Strategy Implementation Group was held on March 21st
and attended by Minister Doyle. The Group will continue
to meet bi-annually and will report periodically to the
FoodWise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee.