Sainsbury's targets home-grown organic demand

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sainsbury Organic food

Sainsbury's plans to launch what it claims is the UK's first ever
100 per cent organic supermarket box scheme.

Clearly looking to tap the continuing demand in growth for organic food - AC Nielsen Data shows sales for Sainsbury's organic range up 18.4 per cent year on year Sainsbury's is confident that the scheme will widen consumer opportunity to buy into seasonal UK grown produce.

If successful, the strategy could also help consolidate consumer trust in organic food - one of the sector's major selling points.

This trust took a hit recently when it emerged that organic produce destined for supermarket shelves was increasingly being sourced abroad. A Soil Association report, which reported increased sales of organic products, was disappointed to report that supermarkets were achieving a portion of this growth with organic food from outside the UK.

Transport of food by air, which creates the highest CO2 emissions per tonne, is the fastest growing mode, and is causing concern among environmentalists.

Supermarkets have been quick to adopt organic food in order to tap into concerns about the consumption of possibly dangerous chemicals, but also the environmental impact of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Many felt therefore that the sourcing of food from abroad undermined these environmental sentiments.

Sainsbury is keen therefore to emphasise its local credentials.

"This is a huge push for the UK organic industry and supports Sainsbury's ongoing commitment to British farmers and producers,"​ said Sainsbury's organic produce buyer Russell Crowe.

"It is fantastic that we are able to draw together the best of British product in season by using our national network of growers."

Sainsbury's has in fact set itself a target of sourcing 70 per cent of organic food that can be grown in the UK, to come from the UK.

"We are on our way to this figure but have not hit target as the rate of growth of the organics market makes this a challenge,"​ said the supermakret in a statement.

Crowe said that the scheme aims to support local food economies, though it will use nationwide sourcing. The initiative could also see new crops introduced to the UK in order to maintain the box's Britishness and seasonality.

The produce origins will feature in the box including the farm name and region in which the produce was grown along with environmental information. Sainsbury's said that the packaging is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable with any internal packaging assured GM free.

In the future, the scheme could see extend to include fresh meat and poultry.

The European market was worth 20.7 billion in 2004, and has been growing by 26 per cent since 2001. According to AC Neilson data for 52 weeks to 3 July 2006, Sainsbury's share of the organic market stands at 30.8 per cent.

Sainsbury's SO organic box will initially go on trial at the end of this month, available to approximately 500,000 customers in the East Midlands and Anglia. The Soil Association certified box will be available to order on line and will contain eight types of seasonal organic fresh produce only sourced from UK organic farms.

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