The SA was responding to reports of a conference earlier this week, which quoted Organic Trade Board's (OTB) Finn Cottle stating that some of the price differentials between organic and non-organic food are “quite shocking”. Cottle said that some organic products are nearly 70 per cent more expensive than non-organic products, and that price differential must be reduced if the sector is to return to growth.
Clio Turton, spokesperson for the SA, told Food Navigator that OTB was not saying that all organic food is too expensive. “It is a myth that organic products are necessarily more expensive than non-organic products, our price comparisons have found that many organic products are cheaper than premium non-organic equivalents,” she said.
Turton stressed that OTB was also not suggesting that the costs of primary production are cut. “There are some good reasons for why certain organic products are more expensive. Organic meat, for example, takes longer to produce than non-organic meat,” she said.
Instead, the OTB meant that there is a need for the sector to look at the processing and distribution of organic food and take advantage of opportunities to reduce costs in those areas, Turton said.
The organic sector, which was achieving double-digit growth before the recession, has struggled sales in the downturn and sales are down an estimated 10 per cent.
OTB hopes to reverse this decline by working closely with industry. The group has set itself a target of growing the organic market by 1 billion over the next five years.
The OTB has drawn up a business plan outlining how the sector can achieve these aims, which it discussed earlier this week during a conference with key industry stakeholders, including representatives from supermarket giants Tesco, chocolate maker Green & Black’s and organic certifiers the Soil Association.
A national consumer campaign focusing on the principles of organic food - food including sustainability and pesticide-free production – will be central to the strategy.