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Organic foods taste better, claims new poll

By staff reporter , 05-Sep-2005

Consumers opt to buy organic food because it tastes better, so claims a recent survey from the UK's organic body the Soil Association, putting increasing pressure on the food makers to perfect their formulations.

Organic farming is associated with the non-use of artificial chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers, helping to keep toxins out of air, water and soil.

 

And while the poll of 813 people showed 95 per cent of respondents are buying organic to avoid pesticides and food additives; taste, it would appear, is equally important.

 

Recent figures suggest that annual retail sales of organic foodstuffs have soared tenfold to top €1.51 billion in UK alone in the past decade, encouraging more growers and food makers to get involved.

 

The Soil Association, the country's major organic accreditation body, has about 2383 producers and 1227 processors on its books.

 

According to their poll, fruit and vegetable scored particularly high on taste, with 72 per cent of respondents saying they taste better than non-organic. Meat also scored at the top, with 71 per cent saying they preferred the taste of organic meat.

 

The surge in organic food in recent years has created new opportunities for suppliers of ingredients, particularly those sourced locally.

 

"A recent survey by the UK government's DEFRA found that after taste and health, locality was the third driving force for consumer purchases of organic foods," says Simon Wright, a consultant on organic foods.

 

While structural barriers exist in building up sources of organic ingredients, gains could be maximised by UK suppliers playing to the strengths of the country's climate.

 

Obvious as this seems, they can not compete on organic vanilla or organic tea, but they can on brassicas, vegetables, high protein wheat for bread, for example.

 

But competition could still be tight. According to Wright, British Sugar has just pulled out of the UK organic market because of a lack in demand. Their product had to compete with the less expensive imported cane sugar from Brazil.

 

For a product to be termed 'organic' it must meet the standards of an approved independent control body, which has inspected all aspects of its production.

 

The EU regulation recognises that it is not yet possible to make products entirely from organic ingredients.

 

As a result the manufacturer can use up to 5 per cent of certain non-organic food ingredients and still label the product as organic. However, genetically-modified ingredients and artificial food additives are never allowed in organic foods.

 

For foods which contain 70 to 95 per cent organic ingredients, the word organic appears only in the ingredients list, and as a description on the front of label to show the percentage of ingredients which are organic.

 

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