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Organic Bread Wheat Production and Market in Europe

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Sustainable Agriculture Reviews

Abstract

This chapter is a first attempt to analyse bottlenecks and challenges of European organic bread wheat sector involving technical, political and market issues. From 2000, the organic grain market has largely increased in Western Europe. To balance higher consumer demand there is a need to increase organic production by a new transition and technical improvement. Bread wheat is grown in a variety of crop rotations and farming systems where four basic organic crop production systems have been defined. Weeds and nitrogen deficiency are considered to be the most serious threat inducing lowest grain yield under organic production. The choice of cultivar, green manure, fertilization and intercropping legumes – grain or forage – are efficient ways to obtain high grain quality and quantity.

The economic viability of wheat production in Europe is also affected by subsidies from European Union agri-environmental programs. Support has been granted to organic farming since the beginning of the 1990s. Direct payments from European regulation combined with premium prices paid by consumers had compensated the lowest crop production. In the European Union, the current cycle of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is due to end in 2013. Discussions are now under way to support the policy for the period 2014–2020. With the increasing consumer awareness of their food, the growth of the organic sector may continue in the near future. However, financial crisis in some countries may lead to stagnation or even decline of consumer demand.

The development of the organic grain sector is actually confronted to others challenges as quality and safety value. Technological ways of milling and baking may also improve baking quality and nutritional value of organic flour, as well as it prevents mycotoxin contamination. For instance, milling process strongly influences flour characteristics. Stone milling improves nutritive value when characteristics remain very stable independently of the milling yield while flour characteristics from roller milling appear very susceptible to the milling yield. The economic efficiency of the bread wheat sector is also influences by the existence of an adequate marketing structure answering consumers’ requirements. This paper is a contribution of a multidisciplinary group of researchers involved in AGTEC-Org project using peer review, statistical data and interviews of key actors: farmers, advisers or experts (coreorganic.org/research/projects/agtec-org/index.html).

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Acknowledgments

We sincerely acknowledge key-experts and private companies who temporarily contributed to this study by interviews done in Austria, Denmark, France, Italy and Switzerland. The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the CORE-Organic ERA-Net project carried out by 13 public funding bodies representing 11 European countries Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The AGTEC-Org project (Agronomical and Technological methods to improve organic wheat quality) is initiated as a part of the European Commission ERA-NET CORE Organic Scheme, which intends to step up cooperation between national research activities on organic agriculture.

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David, C. et al. (2012). Organic Bread Wheat Production and Market in Europe. In: Lichtfouse, E. (eds) Sustainable Agriculture Reviews. Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, vol 11. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5449-2_3

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