Worldwide development of organic agriculture has not waned, recording average rates of growth ranging from 10 to 20% per annum in recent years. The numbers speak of a total cultivated area of over 37 million hectares, 1.8 million companies in 160 countries (only 86 countries engaged in organic agriculture in 2000) and a market worth over 55 billion dollars (about 40 billion euros). Consumer demand is concentrated mostly in Europe and North America, which together absorb 97% of expenditures for organic foods. Asia, Latin America and Australia are important producers, but are prevalently devoted to exportation. The most important countries in Europe where the organic foods market is strong are Germany, France and Italy, while the highest pro-capita consumption is in Denmark (140 euros per year pro capita of expenditures for organic foods), the Alpine countries (Switzerland, with 115 euros per year pro capita of expenditures for organic foods and Austria with 109 euros), followed by Sweden.
Australia continues to be the leading organic foods producer, with 12 million hectares dedicated to cultivation, while Italy, with a total of over 1 million hectares, ranks eighth in the world (after Argentina, China, The United States, Brazil, Spain and India) and second in Europe, in a nose to nose race with Spain, leading Germany, Great Britain and France. Italy is the world’s foremost producer of organic vegetables (with an area of 28,000 hectares, eight times the area of Spain), citrus fruits 823,000 hectares) and grapes (with 52,000 hectares, triple the area of France) and olives (over 140,000 hectares). With an important part of organic production oriented towards exports, Italy is also the world’s largest exporter of organic products, which reach shelves throughout Europe, The United States and Japan, for a value of more than 1 billion euros in 2010.