With food spending down overall, the organic sector has bucked the trend by recording four per cent growth last year.
That is according to the results of the Soil Association’s 2015 Organic Market report, which shows significant growth in a year when both food prices were down 1.9 per cent and food spending fell by 1.1 per cent.
The data reveals that shoppers spent an extra £1.4m a week on organic products and the organic market exceeded £1.86bn, bringing sales back to levels in 2009. Growth in sales across Soil Association Certification symbol holders increased by 7.7 per cent.
Dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables were the most popular organic purchases, while, encouragingly, independent retailers recorded 5.7 per cent growth.
- Looking specifically at the data, the headline figures included:
- More than a quarter of spending on organic products (27.9 per cent) is in dairy, with yoghurt sales increasing by 13.8 per cent and dairy sales increasing by 6.5 per cent.
- Sales of organic eggs and poultry were up 15.8 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively, while non-organic sales fell by 6.2 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.
- Sales of organic vegetables fell by two per cent, however, non-organic sales plummeted at five times this rate.
- Health and beauty was up 20 per cent.
Commenting on the report, Helen Browning, Soil Association Chief Executive, 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.”
It seems that innovation is helping to drive the growth within the sector, with 2014 seeing more organic versions of established brands. And the mood among organic business is confident, with 63 per cent predicting growth this year and six in 10 of these (62 per cent) anticipating double-digit growth.
In other organic news, the recently appointed Chairman of Wales’ only organic milk co-op believes there is a strong future ahead.
Dave Edge, who this month takes over the role at Calon Wen, points out that for medium sized conventional farms in Wales, it could be the time to make the switch to organic in the near future.
Edge says the consistent prices Calon Wen can secure for its milk points to a solid, and growing, demand among consumers who consider organic milk as a staple not a luxury.
“One in four shoppers opt for organic milk now and that’s coming off the back of the deepest recession in living memory where household budgets were hardest hit,” he said.
“Conventional milk prices have taken a battering recently, and if I were a conventional farmer it would be the volatility that would kill me. Organic prices have remained pretty steady over the past three years. The difference in price between organic and conventional is anywhere from 14p upwards per litre and that’s a striking figure in these difficult times.”