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Organic Food Sales Growing By £2.3 Million A Week As Local Markets Boom

by 5m Editor
14 November 2005, at 12:00am

UK - Sales of organic products continue to grow much faster than sales in the non-organic grocery market and last year reached £1.213 billion - an 11% increase on the previous calendar year - according to figures released today by the Soil Association. The growth in sales equates to £2.3 million a week.

Organic Food Sales Growing By £2.3 Million A Week As Local Markets Boom - UK - Sales of organic products continue to grow much faster than sales in the non-organic grocery market and last year reached £1.213 billion - an 11% increase on the previous calendar year - according to figures released today by the Soil Association. The growth in sales equates to £2.3 million a week.

The Soil Association's Organic Market Report 2005 - the most comprehensive review of the organic sector - says sales of organic products through box schemes, farm shops and farmers’ markets increased by 33% in 2004. Sales through independent shops also rocketed, increasing by 43%. The supermarket share of the market fell from 81% to 75% but still accounts for £913 million in sales.

The report’s key findings also include:

  • An encouraging widening of the appeal of organic food and farming beyond high earners and the middle classes, with over half those in lower income groups now saying they buy some organic products

  • Despite a static birth rate, a 6% growth in the UK market for organic baby foods between 2003 and 2004, compared to 1.5% for non-organic baby foods over the same period. Organic baby meals account for more than half of the total baby meals market with a sales value of £51 million in 2004, compared to £49 million for non-organic baby meals

  • A worrying 1% increase in the contribution made by imports to the volume of organic food and drink consumed in the UK. The key factor in this was a switch away from UK-produced organic pork, beef and salad by some leading supermarkets.

"This report shows that the popularity of organic food is growing steadily and the organic market has a bright future," says Patrick Holden, the Soil Association’s Director. "Increasing numbers of people are eager to buy local to obtain the freshest organic food possible and to cut down on the environmental pollution caused by ‘food miles’, which is good news for small local producers.

"Some supermarkets are responding positively to the appetite for local food, but others are choosing to fly in the face of consumer expectations and government targets by increasing their reliance on imports. Imported beef and pork may be cheaper, but they mean increased food miles and are often produced to lower animal welfare standards. After two consecutive years in which little or no progress has been made towards the import reduction goals set in the Organic Action Plan, the government needs to step up its efforts to get the major retailers to take its targets seriously."

Further Information

To read the summary of findings from the Organic Market Report 2005, click here

Source: Soil Association - 14th November 2005

5m Editor