Organic food sales in Germany, the largest European market for the sector, were "stagnant" in 2009, according to the latest industry data.

Figures from Germany's organic food federation, the BÖLW, said there had been particular losses in food retailing and discount stores. Estimated turnover in the sector amounted to around EUR5.85bn (US$8.52bn), which BÖLW said was "roughly the same" or even "slightly less" than last year.

"The reason is price declines and range reductions in discount stores," said Hans-Christoph Behr, director of agricultural information company AMI.

"This has led to a smaller range of goods in the affected stores. Targeted price reductions by the discount stores did not lead to the desired effect of a higher sales volumes."

Despite these losses, the organic sector outperformed the wider food market in Germany, the trade organisation said today (13 January).

While total food sales declined by 2.4% in 2009, the decline in the organic market was "significantly lower", the organic body said.

Joachim Weckmann, chief executive of the Association Organic Food Producers, said that in most markets, a balance between raw material supply and product sales had developed.

"Cultivation and demand grew in 2009 jointly at a healthy level. The continued growing demand for organic products in an economic crisis demonstrates that consumers value on products from sustainable development pioneers baskets."