The UK bucked the trend across the rest of Europe, where organic sales increased by more than 25% over the five years to last August. In the same time period in the UK, organic sales contracted 1.5%.
Since then, however, UK organic sales have started to rebound, with growth of 1.6% over the past year to October 11, according to Nielsen figures, outperforming the non-organic grocery sector, which declined 0.6%.
The Soil Association attributes the recovery to its ‘Organic September’ campaign, which urged consumers to make one small change in their shopping habits by choosing one product to always buy organic.
Finn Cottle, trade consultant at the Soil Association, said; “This is a clear sign informed UK shoppers are becoming more loyal to organic food and drink. Campaigns like Organic September, alongside recent positive publicity and a renewed emphasis on innovation and new listings, are all helping to bolster performance.”
Cottle added: “New products and wider accessibility to organic will continue to help secure growth in this market.”
The campaigning organisation claimed declining sales over the past five years were assisted by retailers cutting organic lines and reducing shelf space dedicated to organic products as consumers looked to tighten their belts during the recession, but this trend has now shifted.
Organic eggs (+ 11.7%), dairy (+8.4%) and poultry (+6.6%) were the strongest growing sectors over the past year, according to Nielsen.
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.