Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, defines organic production as follows:
“Organic production is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental and climate action practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources and the application of high animal welfare standards and high production standards in line with the demand of a growing number of consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes.
Organic production thus plays a dual societal role, where, on the one hand, it provides for a specific market responding to consumer demand for organic products and, on the other hand, it delivers publicly available goods that contribute to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development”.
Asturias offers exceptional natural conditions for organic production: humid and mountainous grazing land interspersed with forests that occupy most of the region’s surface area. We have the perfect climate, water, soil and biodiversity for organic production.
Local crop varieties and autochthonous breeds also play a fundamental role in the development of organic production, due to their adaptation to the environment and resistance to diseases.
The main crop that covers most of the agricultural surface area in Asturias is the apple tree with local varieties, used to produce apple juice and cider.
Other relevant crops are the cranberry and other small fruit, the kiwi and other fruit varieties. Asturias enjoys a perfect climate for some nuts such as the chestnut, walnut or hazelnut.
In terms of horticulture, small productions dominate with a great variety of crops; some of them are traditional crops with local varieties like the Asturian bean and spelt.
Asturias is a predominantly stockbreeding region that preserves traditional management such as the use of grazing land and the fodder provided by the actual farm. Therefore, the transition to organic production is less complicated in comparison to more intensive productions.
Most of the livestock farms breed beef cattle, with autochthonous breeds such as Asturiana de Los Valles or Carreñana, and Asturiana de la Montaña or Casina. Most of the organic livestock farms are subject to the Regulatory Council for the PGI “Ternera Asturiana” (Asturian Veal).
El vacuno de leche es otra de las actividades más importantes y con gran potencial en producción ecológica en Asturias. La raza principal es la frisona, aunque también hay otras razas más rústicas y adaptadas al pastoreo.
Breeding dairy cattle is another of the most important activities that has a great organic production potential in Asturias. Friesian is the main breed, although there are also other hardier breeds that adapt to grazing.
There are fewer sheep and goat livestock farms. Organic production farms breed some of the most important flocks of Asturian autochthonous endangered breeds, such as the Oveya Xalda and the Cabra Bermeya.
As occurs in Asturias in general terms, there are fewer horse-breeding organic production farms, too, as well as only a few poultry or pig farms.
Asturias is a paradise for bees thanks to the food diversity found in wild vegetation, in forests, in pasture lands and in traditional crops such as the apple tree.
Different types of honey are produced in Asturias. In addition to multi-flower honey there is also single-flower honey from the eucalyptus, chestnut, heather, oak, etc.
Organic production regulations include aquaculture, as well as the cultivation and harvesting of sea algae.
The excellent water quality of Asturian rivers and the Cantabrian Sea permits the organic production of trout, oyster farming, and the cultivation and harvesting of different types of algae.
There is an increasing variety of organic food produced in Asturias. COPAE’s register of processors includes small craft firms as well as large agri-food industries. Some of their activities are closely related to primary production, and to the local market, by means of short distribution channels, whereas other industries handle greater amounts and open up more to foreign markets.
In relation to the industrial activities linked to plant origin production, there are a large number of products, varying from vegetable preserves, juices, cider, or bakery products to cattle feed.
In relation to animal origin products, meat and dairy industries are ahead of other products such as honey, eggs, or preserved fish.