Published: Tuesday 15 January 2002

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has asked developing nations to boost exports of organic produce so that they can take advantage of growing organic food markets in developed countries.

In a recent report entitled 'World markets for organic fruit and vegetables', FAO stated that domestic production of organic products in developed countries is expected to increase in the next few years, but it is highly unlikely that this production would be able to meet the demand for most products. "As demand for organic fresh produce is expected to continue to outstrip production in developed countries, imports will be needed to meet consumers' demand," says the study.

The document adds: "Sales values were found to increase in most markets at annual rates generally ranging between 20 and 30 per cent during the last years of the 1990s. Particularly high growth rates have recently been observed in the UK and Italy." The report also states that in Italy, organic fruit and vegetable retail sales have grown at an annual rate of about 85 per cent during 1998-2000.

It is pointed out that the developing nations located nearest to northern developed markets have the best chance of success in boosting their fresh organic food exports. Some of the recommendations put forward by the report to boost exports to developed markets are: establishing national or regional organic standards and regulations and a reliable independent accreditation and control system.

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