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Soil Association Organic Market Report - Organic Food Sales Soar
4th Sep 07

The Soil Association have just published their annual Organic Food Market Report, and the figures show organic food and drink sales in the UK nudged the £2 billion mark - a 22% growth rate throughout the year.

This annual report was launched at the same time as the Soil Association Organic Fortnight 2007, and it shows the continuing growing market in organic food and drink. However, its not just organic food and drink which is measured, but also includes textiles and health and beauty products.

Organic box and mail order schemes have also shown considerable growth rates this year, from £95 million in 2005 to £146 million in 2006 - a staggering 53% growth. This is actually more than double the amount experienced by major supermarkets.

A particularly strong growth area within the organic industry is in the textiles and organic health and beauty sectors. In 2006 the Soil Association saw a 30% increase in the number of health and beauty products licensed with them. Also at current growth rates the UK organic cotton market is estimated to be worth £107 million by 2008.

This report also includes research from Mintel, which shows that within the group of people surveyed, over half of them had purchased organic fruit and vegetables within the last 12 months. Also one in four consumers had bought organic meat or dairy products; and one in six had purchased packaged organic goods.

Other key areas of the organic report were:

  • Organic farmers are three times as likely to market their products locally or directly as non-organic farmers in the UK.
  • Households that have children under 15 tend to buy more organic food than households with no children.
  • An average of £37 million is spent on organic produce in the UK, with consumers who live in London, the Southeast, the Southwest and Wales most likely to purchase organic food.
    For the first time sales in free-range and organic eggs are outstripping eggs from caged birds. Which must mean that concerns over animal welfare appear to be driving changes in the poultry sector. The combined sales value of free range and organic eggs exceeded that of cage eggs for the first time.
  • Organically managed land now accounts for approximately 3.5% of the UK s total agricultural land area. Organic holdings now represent approximately 1.6% of all farms in the UK.
  • In the year to March 2007, the market for organic milk increased by approximately 20% c in line with the long-term average organic milk market growth.
  • Organic baby food sales have increased by 7% to approximately £78 million - in 2006. Over the same period the sales of non-organic baby food declined by 2%.
  • The organic poultry market is another area of increase in sales, and shows no signs of slowing down. An estimated 12.4 million organic table birds were consumed in 2006 c an increase of 39% since 2005.

However, even though there has been a steady growth in the organic food sector in the UK, there are other organic areas that are still falling to meet demands. One example of this is organic livestock sectors, which are dependent on supplies of organic feed. However, UK self-sufficiency in organic cereals fell below 50% during 2006, which increased our reliance on imported organic grains. Also as a result of poor global harvests, the cost of livestock feed wether organic or non-organic is rising considerably.

Soil Association Director of Food and Farming, Helen Browning, said:

"The staggering 53 per cent growth in sales through box schemes and other direct routes confirms strong public support for local, seasonal and organic food that provides a fair return to farmers and growers, boosts the local economy, and also reduces your carbon footprint c consumers are increasingly linking everyday food choice to environmental action.

"While this year s report confirms a positive future for organic food and farming, the organic movement faces challenges in the long-term from climate change and rising oil prices, as do all farmers and growers. Rises in feed and fuel prices will need to be reflected in food prices at the check-out that enable farmers to get a fair return on their production costs. It's fantastic to have such strong public support for and understanding of the benefits provided by organic farming, but that must urgently extend to more widespread acceptance, by retailers as well as consumers, of the true costs of producing staple foods like eggs, milk, meat , and bread sustainably.

"The significant short-fall in UK grown organic cereals is a major concern, forcing greater reliance on imports for livestock feed - but of course, it is also a major opportunity for current non-organic cereal farmers to convert and supply a guaranteed and growing market.

"With the government s own studies confirming that organic farming typically uses 30 per cent less energy than non-organic farming, it s not surprising more and more people are choosing to purchase planet-friendly, organic food. This is confirmed by an independent poll commissioned by the Soil Association from Mumsnet, which found that 84 per cent of mums believe that organic is better for their family and 90 per cent for the planet. We ll be using that endorsement from the nation s mums to get Gordon Brown to wake up to the planet-friendly benefits of organic food and farming."

Organic News Pages - Archives

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Soil Association Organic Market Report - Organic Food Sales Soar


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