In Europe, when it comes to organic farming, potato is one of the least represented crops having only 1% of the total number of hectares grown. It is precisely this statistic that points to the great development potential that exists once some technical hitches have been overcome: yield per hectare, more resistant varieties etc.
In the European Union there are 23,000 hectares of potato being grown under organic conditions which only represents 1% of the European total surface area. The largest producer is Germany, a country which has 7,500 hectares of crop. It is followed by Austria with 2,426 hectares and the United Kingdom with 2,360 hectares.
Nonetheless, Austria is the country which relatively speaking leads the pack because this represents 11% of their total planted area. This meant that for years, Austria was an important supplier of organic potato for markets in Germany and in the United Kingdom. In 2006, production dropped to only 38,000 tonnes and because of domestic demand, foreign markets suffered the consequences. In 2007, normal production levels returned with around 50,000 tonnes and from then on production has remained stable as export markets have extended their own cultivation areas. This is the case in Germany which in 2007 had 8,600 hectares.
The most spectacular case can be found in the United Kingdom where organic potato cultivation increased by 260% between 2000 and 2006 growing from 911 hectares to 2,360 hectares. Sales between 2006 and 2007 in English supermarkets grew by 22%. This spectacular rise has been influenced without a doubt by the campaign “Buy British”. A large part of British retail is very involved with this campaign that focuses attention on organic produce from Britain itself. Nonetheless, in spite of this, it continues to depend on imports from Austria and Israel.
In this way, in Sainsbury’s, the level of British supply reached almost 60% of all potatoes sold. In 2006 sales reached 8,000 tonnes and it is hoped that by 2010 it will reach 12,000 tonnes, 70% of which should be of pure British origin.