Since the mid-1990s the market for organic foods has been expanding rapidly in many developed countries. FAO and the International Trade Centre (ITC) estimate that world retail sales of organic foods reached US$20 billion in 2001, up 25 percent from $16 billion in 20001. ITC (2002a) has forecast that sales will range between US$23 and 25 billion in 2003 and reach some 30 billion in 2005. This rapid expansion contrasts with the slow growth in sales in the conventional food sector. Furthermore, organic products have tended to fetch higher prices than their conventional equivalents. These two factors have generated considerable interest among farmers, many of whom face declining prices for their products.
However, careful analysis is needed before deciding whether to convert to organic farming, as some important parameters are little known. On the supply side, organic farming may entail lower yields and higher costs, especially during the transition period. This depends of course on the agro-ecological, social and economic context in which farmers operate. On the demand side, it should be borne in mind that organic sales represent only a fraction of the overall food market, less than 2 percent on average. The recent deceleration of demand growth in the most “mature” markets (e.g. Germany, Denmark) seems to indicate that the high growth rates of the last decade will probably not last, which means that it is difficult to predict the size of the organic market in the long term. Most likely, it will be between 3.5 and 5 percent of the food market of developed countries in 2010 (FAO 2002).
In addition, it is not clear whether the current price premium for organic foods (i.e. the price difference between an organic product and its conventional equivalent) will continue to remain high or will decrease, as some examples in some 'mature' organic markets suggest. The evolution of price premia will depend on the respective growth rates of organic supply and demand.
It is therefore essential to obtain economic and market information to guide decisions and policy formulation on organic farming. The purpose of this paper is to provide quantitative information on the markets for certified organic citrus products, in fresh and processed forms. For more details on requirements for exporting fresh organic fruits to industrialized countries, readers can refer to the FAO/ITC/CTA study 'World markets for organic fruit and vegetables' (FAO 2001a).
As there are no official foreign trade statistics on organic products, the figures presented below are estimates based on interviews with the trade, industry consultants and a review of publications and 'grey' literature. Price figures only have an indicative value, as prices in the organic sector vary considerably over time and space.
1 Some other sources estimate the size of the world organic market at US$18 billion in 2000 and US$21-26 billion in 2001 but these figures are based on an overestimation of the Japanese market.