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Organics in Finland—a country report

Nuutila, Jaakko
Organic agriculture 2019 v.9 no.2 pp. 165-173
European Union, agricultural land, business enterprises, dairy cows, education, food chain, food industry, food processing, food production, grasses, market share, marketing channels, markets, oats, organic foods, organic production, prediction, school meals, sheep, stakeholders, students, trade balance, Arctic region, Finland
The Finnish organic food system has had the same development phases as many other countries producing or consuming organic food, but the current volume of production and the market share is lagging severely behind the best-performing European Union countries. Finnish authorities set several development programmes with quantitative goals for the growth of the organic sector. The current “2020” goals aspire to reach, e.g. a 20% share of organic from total agricultural land and to triple the share of organic markets (compared to 2014). Despite scholars predicting these current goals unreachable, the food chain stakeholders trust in the positive organic developments in all areas and food sectors. The major share of the organic land is under grass production for milking cows, other bovines and sheep. Oats are the most commonly organically cultivated grain. Organic food processing, as well as its retail, is very biased: large-scale companies represent the largest shares, while SMEs (small- and medium-size enterprise) offer an alternative marketing channel for producers and consumers. Public procurement provides an important channel for the organic food chain in Finland, since its education system offers a warm school meal for all students up to the vocational school level. The foreign organic trade balance is negative and that challenges the food industry in product innovations and branding the general attributes of Finnish food, purity and its Arctic origin together with organic food production. Organic development needs research that currently focuses mainly on agricultural and environmental issues. More cross-disciplinary and holistic research is needed to understand the slow development of organic sector in Finland.