Europe's organic meat industry is nearing overcapacity, according to new research by Organic Monitor. Large volumes of organic meat products are flooding a market that is showing signs of slowing down.
The European organic meat products market has been growing at over 20 per cent a year since 1998. However, market growth is forecast to slow to 9.5 per cent this year. The market is becoming increasingly competitive as many countries are suffering from oversupplies. Export markets are also drying up.
One reason for this is that most European countries are becoming self-sufficient in the supply of organic meat products. The German and British markets for example, which have traditionally been large importers of organic meat products, have gradually decreased the amount of imported organic meat.
Instead, consumers are increasingly buying domestically produced organic meat products.
One exception to the rule is the Italian market. Organic meat supplies have been falling short of demand for a number of years and this has resulted in the Italian market becoming the most import-dependent. Although the country has the largest organic land area in Europe - 1.23 million hectares - there is still a shortage of organic meat producers. As a result, significant volumes of all organic meat products still need to be imported into Italy.
Organic beef still accounts for most of the European organic meat products market. The BSE crisis and the relatively low price premium helped make organic beef the most popular organic meat product with European consumers.
The new research study by Organic Monitor also shows that conventional meat companies dominate the supply-side for organic meat products. The majority of the largest 15 firms in Europe that deal with organic meat products are conventional. These companies have acquired market leadership through moving into the organic meat sector or by acquiring dedicated organic meat companies.
Organic Monitor is a provider of business intelligence on the international organic food industry. Consultants continuously track the organic food industry for trends and developments.