The State of Sustainable Markets: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2017

This year’s report shows how certified agriculture and forestry continue to expand rapidly, in line with a growing global population and increasing consumption

The State of Sustainable Markets: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2017 is the second in what is now an annual update on the state of sustainable markets, based on the annual global survey on sustainability standards. The report is based on a partnership between the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), and is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The report offers a comprehensive snapshot of significant growth in the use of global sustainability standards across nine sectors: bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybeans, cane sugar, tea and forestry. It presents the latest data on area, production volume and producers for 14 major standard-setting organizations. It provides market and statistical data on the nine sectors, as well as at-a-glance tables for products and standards by country. The report also outlines its methodology, data sources and references.

The current market context shows:

  • continued exceptional growth;
  • expanding coverage of agricultural land; and
  • dominance of single-sector standards in some sectors.

Among the highlights of this year’s report:

Organic is the biggest sustainability standard in terms of area and product variety. In 2015, more than 50.9 million hectares of agricultural production were certified as organic (including areas in the process of becoming organic certified), representing 1.1% of agricultural land worldwide.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has the second-largest area of all the standards, accounting for 0.07% of the global agricultural area. GLOBALG.A.P. had more than 3.1 million hectares in 2015, making it the biggest standards in terms of area certified.

Cotton experienced the highest growth rate of its certified area (250% between 2011 and 2015), followed by bananas and oil palm. Between 2014 and 2015, soybeans grew the fastest (48%), followed by cotton and tea. Certified forest area expanded by 61% between 2008 and 2015.
Double-digit certification of their respective global areas was noted in 2015 for coffee (24% of the global coffee area), cocoa (16%), oil palm (15%) and tea (14% of the world’s tea area).

This report’s presentation of market conditions and trends thus intends to inform readers, encourage additional data collection and promote accountability within sustainability markets. It also serves as a resource for further analysis and informed decision making by researchers, policymakers, industry actors and other stakeholders.

About the Global Survey on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)

The PDF version of "The State of Sustainable Markets: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2017" may be downloaded at the FiBL shop on the Website of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL. "The State of Sustainable Markets: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2017"