Organic success in Estonia

With the number of producers numbering approaching 1500, organic products in Estonia – now represented in organic sections of most larger stores – have hardly been affected by the rising food prices.

Organic dairy farmer Aivar Pikkmets told Estonian TV that smart management has helped farmers survive the downturn. “Today I would say that buying-in prices for milk are at the right level and the money is flowing. Payment does drag, but it keeps flowing, so in that sense nothing is amiss. Our farm earns its main share of income from milk.”

Some note the problem that the market continues to be awash in processed or specialty organic products from larger markets. Estonian consumers prefer domestic goods, say organic farming associations. The situation has improved. Perishable products such as raw organic milk are now regularly available in the larger cities, eggs as well. But there are also gaps in the range of products – organic or even free-range chicken is practically non-existent. Estonian Organic Agriculture Foundation founder Merit Mikk said that despite 1,400 producers and their 130,000 hectares of land, “the amount of processed products is still small.”

Pikkmets adds that just like conventional farmers, organic farms suffer from the disparity between European subsidies for the continent and the low level in Estonia. However, the trend of 100 – 150 new organic producers each year is expected to continue.