Kai Kreuzer
Waldstrasse 4
36341 Lauterbach
Tel. +49 6641 6443008
Fax +49 6641 6445189


Prof. Dr. Raffaele Zanoli
Università Politecnica delle Marche
Via Brecce Bianche
60131 Ancona
Tel. +39 071 2204929

How to improve organic market data collection? Workshop and project meeting report

Report from Kai Kreuzer about the first stakeholder workshop and the third meeting of the OrganicDataNetwork project.

Photo of Project members

Project members at the Organic Research Centre in Newbury, UK


A public discussion on the improvement of organic market data collection in Europe is now open at the OrganicDataNetwork Forum as one initiative resulting from the first stakeholder workshop which took place on 13 March 2013. The project "Data network for better European organic market information (OrganicDataNetwork)" aims to increase the transparency of the European organic food market to meet the needs of policymakers and actors involved in organic markets. It is funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union and runs from 2012 to 2014. Over 40 stakeholders from 17 European countries and from Morocco and Tunisia attended the workshop held at the Organic Research Centre in the UK. After the workshop, a regular project meeting took place on 14 and 15 March 2013.  

Participants of the workshop identified problems in data collection, improvement opportunities and ease of implementation as well as the main areas for which good organic market data are difficult to obtain (in terms of availability and quality): retail sales, international trade and price data. Among the key suggestions, participants named the collection of missing relevant data, harmonisation of organic market data in terms of both methods and of classifications and definitions, and mandatory collection of market data by control bodies to improve both the inspection system and market transparency. The idea is also to give technical support for data collectors through the provision of advice and a handbook, as well as the creation of national round tables for the exchange of ideas on data collection issues. They could work as an efficient network and improve the results. Finally, the use of Rural Development Programmes and other funds would provide incentives for better organic data collection. The planned revision of the Council Regulation (EC) N° 834 / 2007 is an opportunity to review current practices and methods of organic market data collection. 

What types of data collector are there? According to a survey among organic data collectors carried out as part of the OrganicDataNetwork project by The Organic Research Centre, there are government bodies, control and certification agencies, wholesalers and processors, retailers, importers and exporters, market research institutes and universities which collect data and deliver figures concerning the organic market. The methods used to collect data are e-mail surveys, census, experts’ estimates, telephone surveys, face-to-face surveys or different panels such as household or retail panels. In this field the University of Kassel with Professor Ulrich Hamm and Corinna Feldmann are analysing the current situation of organic market data collection and processing in terms of relevance, accuracy, comparability, coherence, accessibility and clarity, and punctuality. They have identified problems which need to be tackled. “Especially data on retail sales volumes or import and export volumes of organic products for important organic agricultural assets are missing in the majority of European countries”, Mr. Hamm said. Only in the last few years have the organic agricultural land, the number of operators, production and livestock been reported quite accurately in most countries. (Photo: seminar room at the The Organic Research Centre)

 While in some countries only one organisation deals with organic market data collection (or at least only one organisation replied to the Kassel survey) in a few countries more than one organisation collects organic market data. These organisations often deal with various types of data and collect data for different purposes and hence use different collection methods. Although the majority of the reports are publicly available (87 %), a minority of studies and findings (17 %) are only accessible if purchased , or they are not published at all.

“One size fits all” is no solution, according to Dr. Susanne Padel, senior researcher at The Organic Research Centre and partner in the OrganicDataNetwork. “There are different possibilities, different ways of working and collecting data. “Between June and August we will discuss how and what can be improved in the existing data collecting systems in six case studies”, says Dr. Padel. Dr. Mathias Stolze from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland , suggests that each European state should institute regular payment for the routine collection of organic data. “There has to be a Europe wide network that coordinates this urgently needed data collection." (Photo: Entrance of the Organic Research Centre near Newbury, UK)

Dr. Helga Willer from FiBL explained the availability of data in the different countries. The area figures are reported regularly by 39 European countries that are included in the market data survey of the OrganicDataNetwork project. Total retail sales are only known in 34 of these countries. Regarding export or import figures by product, they are only known by 7 countries, and by 5 countries in terms of value (euros). In terms of volume in tons, only 3 countries have figures for the export and import of different products. She also suggested an online database containing all country figures and reports, which can be regularly updated. (Graph: number of countries with data, source: FiBL)

Professor Raffaele Zanoli from Università Politecnica delle Marche, and coordinator of the OrganicDataNetwork project, stated: “We intend to use the newly created forum to further discuss and refine the challenges related to organic market data collection. This information will feed into a second workshop in Bari, Italy (10-11 July 2014), which will focus on the solutions to the problems identified. We  strongly encourage all stakeholders in organic market data collection to join the forum and to input which issues need our attention most.

 The workshop has made it very clear, how important it is that we as a project consortium provide guidance to data collectors regarding suitable methods. I am happy to announce that one of the next products of the project: a multimedia presentation explaining good practices in data collection, will tackle exactly this need.” A detailed summary of the workshop results will be published by the OrganicDataNetwork project consortium soon and will be available at the project’s website

This article was originally published at "How to improve organic market data collection? OrganicDataNetwork forum started the discussion" by Kai kreuzer

More information


  • Kai Kreuzer,
  • Prof. Dr. Raffaele Zanoli, Università Politecnica delle Marche, project coordinator