Croatia is near the top of EU rankings in ecological agricultural production growth but still lags behind in ecological food consumption, which is three times higher in the EU, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Monday.
Because of the fast-growing market, ecological production is increasingly attractive to domestic farmers, as farmland with such production has grown ten times in the past ten years, said Zaklina Jurisic, an assistant director at the HGK.
In 2017, Croatia had 7,577 hectares of land under ecological production, or 0.63% of all farmland, and 103,166 hectares last year (about 7%), she said.
Last year, the number of ecological agricultural producers rose by almost 9% from 2017, from 4,023 to 4,374.
Fresh vegetable and strawberry growing jumped by 51% from 2017 (+724 tons), grape production by 40% (+1,616 tons) and olive production by 33.6% (+328 tons).
Ecological animal breeding is also on the rise in Croatia, with that of cattle in 2018 jumping by 14% from 2017, from 17,226 head to 19,613, that of sheep by 14.2% (from 54,583 to 62,315), that of goats by 24.2% (from 3,381 to 4,199) and that of pigs by 28.5% (from 1,468 to 1,887).
On the other hand, ecological egg production dropped 12%.
The potential of ecological production is reflected in the European market for such products, which is estimated at €30 billion, or €60 per capita. In Croatia, the market is worth €100 million, or €23.6 per capita.
The share of ecological farm products in retail is 2.5% in Croatia and 5% in the EU.