Of the organic cereals grown in Finland oats are by far the most important. According to Evira statistics organic oats was grown on 19.583 ha in Finland which is only 300 ha more than in 2006. However the total yield might be double 2006 due to the record low harvest that year. But is this enough? I am afraid not. The dynamism of the market is difficult to grasp and therefore nobody seems to know how much will enter the market. Part of the harvest is fed to animals on-farm or sold to neighbors for that purpose. Part of the crop is harvested on small farms and there is no point in transporting it over any distance. For the organic oats that does enter the market there are several buyers, some trading it to the domestic industry but most looking at the export market. Helsinki Mills is buying directly from farmers trying to capture as much of the oats as possible for processing in Finland. So the farmers situation should be quite good. The prices have increased to levels that have not been experienced before during Finland’s EU membership. Prices are up to 2,5 times higher than in 2005. So there should be an incentive for more farmers to go organic. Also conventional oats (as all cereals) price is increasing but nevertheless the price difference is a healthy 100+ €/t.
Sweden, Germany and Canada seem to have experienced average oat harvests on similar acreage as 2006. The main problem would seem to be that the market is growing strongly but production is not. We need more organic farmers. The interesting question which remains to be seen is how farmers react to this clear market signal. If farmers consider converting to organics they will naturally be wondering what the organic oats price will be in 2010. Who can tell? In the meantime we are unfortunately not able to meet the demand.