EU awards €10.4m to regrow British and Danish organic sectors

By Louis Gore-Langton

- Last updated on GMT

The funding will be spent on continuing revival of UK's organic sector ©iStock
The funding will be spent on continuing revival of UK's organic sector ©iStock

Related tags Organic food sales European union Organic food

The European Commission has dished out €10.4m to the UK and Denmark’s organic associations to promote the organic industry in both countries.

The Organic Trade Board (OTB), a British committee making up 70% of the country’s organic food sector, teamed up with Organic Denmark, which represents the entire Danish sector.

Both bodies are focussed on growing organic food sales through marketing and investment, but the countries they represent are at very different levels of development.

Denmark is currently the world’s leading organic nation with more than half the population eating organic at least once a week. The Danish sector grew by 18% in the second half of 2016 alone, making 10% of all food sales organic, according to GfK ConsumerScan. 

In contrast, organic sales in Britain make up 1.8% of food purchases; the sector is growing, although slowly, reaching a 5.8% growth rate in 2016. Even at this stage, the British market is worth €1.6 billion per year, according to a market report by the British Soil Association. 

The European Commission and the EU’s Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) awarded the funding on a three-year basis. Other groups involved in the campaign – including UK supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury’s - matched 20% of the funds. 

The funds will be split between the two organisations, with OTB taking 70%. 

Natural growth

The organic food market slumped significantly during the 2008 financial crisis and efforts to recover the industry have been underway ever since. By 2009, organic sales in the UK had dropped 12.9% and sales in organic fresh meat by 22.7%.

Paul Moore, chief executive of OTB told us: “We were really concerned that organic would go off the buying agenda and what was unusual about that period is there was actually consistent growth throughout Europe and America. England was unique in going back and what we felt we needed as an industry was to communicate with consumers, to make people realise there is value in organic.

“We don’t have to create consumers; we are making sure they can find the products on the shelf. With so many experts working together and with all this funding, it’s an exciting place to be.

“We want people to see the value that organic presents in retail. We are seeing organic users as strategic tools to drive value added sales. We know organic users are highly engaged in food and it’s a good way for retailers to add value back into a fixture. The Danish have seen that organic drives in store traffic.”

The OTB in particular has been campaigning for recovery funding for the past six years, having spent €3.6m so far. By working alongside another European country it managed to secure the EU funding, something granted only to international campaigns.

Claire McDermott, director of the British Soil Association Certificate, said: “This will help everyone right through the supply chain, not just the members of the OTB, but all Soil Association Certification licensees, farmers, processors, brands and businesses. The next three years will be an exciting time for the sector.”

The OTB is currently working on a three year plan for how the money will be used, which will be revealed at a ceremony in London on 1 March.

Related topics Business Organics Sustainability

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Justification of the grant?

Posted by DJA,

If 'organic' is really a good idea then it should be able to promote itself.
I agree with Robert Wager, and will go further and say let them stop the 'fear marketing' before any consideration whatsoever is given to allocating the 'organic' movement any public funds.

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No black marketing

Posted by Robert Wager,

I am all in favor of supporting the organic food industry as long as they do not use the funds to denigrate the competition with fear stories. Sell organic products based on their merits and not by generating fear about the competition products. if such fear marketing occurs de-fund them immediately.

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