Organic food consumption in Serbia significantly lower than in the EU

Serbian organic farming figures are better than they were a few years ago - But there is still a long way to go.

Green meadow, tree branches.

Consumers in EU countries spend millions of euros more on organic food than consumers in Serbia. According to the Serbian news portal AgroNews, in Europe, the average consumption in this category is around €50 per capita, while in some countries, such as the Netherlands, it reaches €300. In Serbia, the average consumption of organic food is €2.4 per capita. Professor Dr Branislav Vlahović from the Faculty of Agriculture in Novi Sad, comments that these figures are not good and that Serbia should put more effort into educating consumers.

Serbia should also increase the area used in organic production. 24 thousand hectares of farmland is used in organic production in Serbia. According to Professor Vlahović, one can perceive this figure in two ways: "Compared to the previous years, this is a significant increase. The area dedicated to organic production in 2015 amounted to around 15 thousand hectares, which means that there has been an increase. That is good. But on the other hand, if Serbia would like to compare itself with the surrounding countries and the countries in the region, that surfaces under organic production are still small.”

Dr. Vlahović  compares Serbia’s organic farmland size with that of the neighbors: “Slovenia has 50.000 ha of organic farmland, in Croatia this figure is 90 thousand ha, in Hungary, around 300 thousand ha, in Romania, it’s close to 400 thousand ha."

The Professor adds that in Serbia, out of the 24 thousand ha of farmland categorized as used in organic production, nearly 10 thousand ha are in the process of conversion thus with no real organic status. The conversion period for growing organic food takes about three years. The largest part of these areas are in Vojvodina, with almost half of the area under cultivation.

The largest share in the production of organic food in Serbia is accounted for fruit and grape cultivation, approximately one-third. The second place goes to cereals with around 30%, followed by industrial plants with 14%, fodder plants with 11%, medicinal plants with 2% and surfaces under vegetable production with only 1%.

The areas used in organic fruit production have a high potential for crop growth. The structure is dominated by raspberries, which cover some 2.000 hectares, followed by apples, plums and blackberries.

In second place are organic cereals with around 5.000 ha, where a decline in production area has been registered in the past year.

Wheat is a dominant organic field crop with more than 2.000 ha, followed by rye, maize and spelt. Professor Vlahović expresses concern over a low percentage of organic vegetable production. "Organic vegetables are cultivated only on 200 ha in the whole of Serbia and still a decrease of area under this organic production is noticeable," points out the professor.

As for the exports of organic production, find our more in this week’s Newsflash - See bellow.

On that note,

The green transformation of crop cultivation is a big topic in Hungary too. Check out our latest article over in the Hungary section about how an extensive ecological farming wheat variety testing program is showing promising preliminary results, and what this will mean for ecological farms in the future.


In other news,

Agricultural lands in Hungary

Hungary Newsflash Week 49

Improving retail commerce figures, new Avian influenza cases, food processing industry subsidy plans, shifting consumer preferences, and the signing of a new research cooperation agreement with the Philippines - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Snowy waterfront, River Danube, Belgrade, Serbia.
Beeld: ©Ljubomir Žarković

Serbia Newsflash Week 49

Increasing organic food export, conflicts in the dairy sector, Belgrade's addition to the Michelin gastro guide, EU accession negotiations progressing, and a digital business platform launch and what it will mean to investments in the Western Balkans - The week in Serbian agriculture.