Rising costs could cook up opportunity for UK organic bakers

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic farming

The rising costs of fertilisers and other agricultural inputs could
boost the output of organic foods and provide more locally sourced
grain for organic bakers.

The UK's self sufficiency in organic cereals fell by 20 per cent over the past two years with more than 60 per cent of demand being met by foreign imports, according to the UK-based Soil Association. Over the same period, demand for organic breads and cereals showed a 19.1 per cent rise taking sales from £68m to £81m, reported Mintel. Two months ago, the organisation forecast that organic products are likely to become even more popular. More Nutritious ​ Organic products are perceived as being healthier, more nutritious and environmentally friendly; characteristics which are proving increasingly attractive to consumers, said the Soil Association. Its business development co-ordinator, Sarah Dyke told BakeryandSnacks.com that: "The growing demand for organic produce presents a positive outlook for organic farmers and those considering conversion especially with the rising price of farm inputs and the doubling of fuel prices over the last year." ​ The Finsbury Food Group says that the company is "growing quickly in organic bread.​" Its Nicholas & Harris business, which focuses on premium speciality and artisan breads, organic and premium morning goods, reported strong growth with sales up by 14 per cent for the six months ended 30 December 2007. Duchy Originals, launched in 1990 by The Prince of Wales, produces over 200 organic products, according to the company's website. The company generated £7m in profits since 1999, reported The Financial Times​ in October 2007. Best selling products include Oaten biscuits and Highland Shortbread manufactured by Walkers Shortbread. Organic Production ​ Meanwhile, at this week's UK arable event Cereals 2008, the Soil Association urged farmers to convert to organic production. It emphasised that nationwide demand for organic arable crops is "at an all time high.​" Organic wheat prices of £300 per tonne offered a great business opportunity and a powerful incentive to convert to organic production methods, it said. Speaking at the same event, National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall confirmed that agrochemical input prices were widely expected to remain at high levels and that the profitability of the sector will be "substantially affected.​" Non organic farmers would have to think about rotation as a way of reducing fertiliser and pesticide inputs, he added.

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