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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1132: XVIII International Symposium on Horticultural Economics and Management

Reasons for low level of organic vegetable production in Finland

Authors:   A. Koivisto, S. Iivonen, H.-M. Väisänen, T. Mattila, P. Kivijärvi
Keywords:   carrot, catering sector, onion, production costs, profitability, storage
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1132.20
Abstract:
The Finnish organic vegetable sector is much smaller than the national target and neither does it meet consumer expectations. The share of organic production is only 2% of the vegetable cultivation area, and the typical organic vegetable cultivation area per farm is very small, at only 0.5 ha. Other organic agriculture sectors have started to grow, however, due to increasing appreciation of organic food and a general positive attitude towards organic production. The study focused on carrot and onion as the most important organic vegetables. The reasons for the underdeveloped organic vegetable sector were found to be problems with cultivation techniques, storage losses, low profitability, low state of upgrading, small production units, and problems with delivery. The most serious of these is the occasional high storage loss. In some years, as much as 50% of organic onion yield is spoiled during storage. Carrot is not subject to such severe storage losses, but is affected by a lack of proper weed control and high manpower hours per ha, factors that lead to low profitability. The majority of organic onion and carrot yield is sold as raw material, having been simply washed and packed. This makes it difficult for the catering sector to use organic products, even if they wanted to. The catering sector would require at the least a peeled product, which are not available. Small production units also lead to scale inefficiencies, due to the cost of machinery and buildings. Moreover, small production units can lead to delivery problems, with yields being too small to serve the retail sector. Consequently, small producers have to find other delivery channels, which can be challenging.

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