Organic processing activities increase 11% in Spain, but cultivated surface area decreases 2%

The majority of processors deal in plant-based products and only one in four deal in animal-based products

The number of processing facilities dedicated to organic production reached 4,127 in 2012, with 3,361 producing plant products and 776 producing animal products. This figure marks an increase of 11.63% over 2011, when 3,697 companies were registered (3,034 with plant products and 663 with animal). This is according to MAGRAMA  data. Despite the growth in processing operations, the surface area for organic production decreased 1.98%. Andalusia is the region with the highest number of these operations with 1250 facilities, which is an increase of 29.27% on 2011. Catalonia is next with 469, Community of Valencia with 464, Castile La Mancha with 296, Murcia with 284 and Aragon with 156. Following Andalusia, the most significant increases were seen in Catalonia (28.72%), Castile La Mancha (27.59%) and Murcia (19.33%).

Regarding plant-based organic production, the number of olive oil mills increased by 26.98%, facilities for the handling and packaging fresh products by 29.57% and those for the handling and packaging of nuts by 30.56%. Similarly, the increase of biscuit, confectionery and bakery companies is also significant at 19.44%, the number of wineries and bottling of wine at 10.94%, and companies handling and packaging of cereals and legumes at 5.38%.

Regarding plant-based organic production, there were 332 companies processing and preserving of meat and meat products in 2012, compared to 268 reported in 2011.
The number of companies engaged in the production of dairy products grew from 101 in 2011 to 128 in 2012. The number of honey production companies increased by 6.77% and those processing and preserving fish, crustaceans and molluscs increased by 16.67%.

Slightly lower surface area dedicated to organic production
Moreover, the recorded area employed for organic farming in 2012 was 1,593,197 hectares (ha), compared with 1,806,528 in 2011, representing a decrease of 11.81% although much of this decline is due to a new methodology for computing surface area, which does not take into account certain types of land use. If surface area excluded in 2012 were added to obtain comparable figures, the result would be 1,808,492 ha in 2012 compared with 1,845,039 in 2011, which is a decrease of only 1.98%. In this regard, MAGRAMA notes that significant changes were made in the manner of presenting the statistics in order to suit the requirements of the European Commission (Eurostat). The three categories included in the 2012 total surface area are: surface area qualified as “organic farming”, surface area qualified as “in conversion”, and surface area qualified as “in first year of practice”, whereas "other land" – which was previously included - is no longer counted in the total.

Despite the reduction total organic area, some areas had significant increases: Cantabria, 5.821 ha to 6,715 ha (15.36%); Madrid, 6,436 ha to 7,198 ha (11.84%); Galicia, 13,806 ha in 2011 to 15,091 ha in 2012 (9.31%); Baleares, 24,554 ha to 25,554 ha (4.07%); Asturias, 21,735 ha to 22,528 ha (3.65%); and Catalonia, 76,136 ha in 2011 to 77,401 ha in 2012 (1.66%).

High decreases occurred in: Andalusia, 973,239 ha to 785,675 (19.27%); Extremadura, 89,547 ha to 74,294 (17.03%); and Valencia, 57,546 ha in 2011 to 49,649 in 2012 (13.72%).

Co-financed by the Regional Department of  Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Government of Andalusia and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, under the "Europe Invests in Rural Areas"

Source: Ecovalia

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