The Soil Association attributes the growth to increased confidence among retailers and brands, after organic sales fell 1.5% over a five-year period to August last year. The UK organic sector lags behind the rest of Europe, where organic sales increased 25% over the same five years.
The campaigning organisation claimed the decline was assisted by retailers cutting organic lines and reducing shelf space dedicated to organic products as consumers looked to tighten their belts during the recession. Unveiling the latest growth figures, Soil Association chief executive Rob Sexton said brands and supermarkets were making space for organics again.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual market briefing, Sexton said: “The UK’s organic market is fast improving. In fact, on top of the positive Nielsen data, our own figures show that Soil Association symbol holders are reporting an increase of +8% in organic sales year on year.
“Consumers have evidence to help them feel confident about what they buy, in the wake of the Newcastle University report showing how we farm absolutely does impact on the quality of the food we eat. We are also seeing supermarkets and brands making more space for organic on shelves and investing more in innovation and marketing. Combined together, all these indicators reveal the growing confidence in the organic market is well justified.”
The organisation reported that UK organic grocery sales rose 3.2% in the four weeks to August 16 this year, compared to a 0.9% decline in the non-organic grocery market.
The organic market represents 1.3% of total grocery spending in the UK. Denmark boasts the most developed organic market in the world as a share of total spending, where organic sales represented 7.6% of the total grocery market in 2012. Germany and France are the largest European organic markets by value, worth €6.6bn and €3.7bn respectively.