New analysis of the organic sector shows the UK’s growing appetite for food and farming that doesn’t cost the earth. The Soil Association’s 2015 Organic Market Report, which is published with Triodos Bank’s support, reveals sales of organic products increased by 4% in 2014. The new figures announced today show this is significant growth in a year when both food prices (down 1.9%) and food spending (down 1.1%) fell. Shoppers spent an extra £1.4 million a week on organic products and the organic market exceeded £1.86 billion, bringing sales back to levels in 2009. Growth in sales across Soil Association Certification symbol holders increased by 7.7%.
Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning said; “Three years ago, commentators were writing off the organic market in the UK. Now, with a third year of steady growth, and against a falling overall food market, it’s clear that reports of organic food’s demise were premature to say the least. This reinvigoration may be partly related to an improving economy, but it’s also testament to the fact that retailers and manufacturers who continued to invest in organic lines have continued to thrive. Now, even the discounters are beginning to stock organic ranges.”
Helen Browning, chief executive, Soil Association
Dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables were the most popular organic purchases. Overall, the strongest market growth was through online shopping and box schemes (11.7%) and independent retailers (5.7%) which offer the choice and convenience of extensive organic ranges in one place. More than a quarter of spending on organic products (27.9%) is in the dairy aisles with yoghurt sales increasing by 13.8% and dairy sales increasing by 6.5% – a stark contrast to the 3% contraction of the non-organic dairy market.
With nearly one third (29%) of shoppers seeking out ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products and over two thirds (68%) making the choice to support local farmers and businesses, the organic sector allows consumers to make more environmentally sustainable choices, with over 83% of UK households purchasing organic products in 2014. The mood among organic business is confident with 63% predicting growth in 2015 and six out of ten of these (62%) anticipating double-digit growth.
Triodos Bank has been an active supporter of the organic sector for 35 years. It works with organic businesses from field to fork, from farmers and growers to processors and retailers. Triodos lends to more than 300 organic food and farming businesses in the UK and around 1,350 across Europe.
Simon Crichton, senior manager in Triodos Bank’s food, farming and trade team said, “The growing organic market is good news for everyone who wants wholesome food with the reassurance it has been farmed sustainably, and ultimately feeds back through to organic farmers, giving them more stable incomes.
“We look forward to the continued growth of online sales, and believe the discounters interest in organic can help shake off the premium shackles and make it the norm as seen across many of our European neighbours. Organic is good for consumers and the environment so we would like to see the political ranks in the UK support it wholeheartedly and make good food available to all via public procurement.”
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