UK organic food sales on track to hit record levels

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/Nayomiee
© iStock/Nayomiee

Related tags Organic food Organic certification Soil association

Fresh produce, dairy and processed foods are fuelling organic sales in the UK, as they are tipped to exceed a record £2.2bn (€2.5bn) by the end of the year.

The figures were presented at an annual trade briefing held by certifying body, The Soil Association, in London last week.

According to market research company Kantar Worldpanel, the UK’s organic market has grown 6.3% between August 2016 and August 2017.

The top three categories which fuelled the high growth have been fresh produce, dairy and grocery.

According to Nielsen Scantrack, grocery alone has contributed to a 39% increase in the past  four years. 

The rising star of retail was online premium outlet Ocado. It took a 9% share for overall retail sales this year while its organic products enjoyed a 16.2% boost in the past twelve months.

London and the affluent regions of south and south-west England have registered the strongest growth levels.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, this has been driven mainly by younger shoppers and smaller households looking for ethically driven purchases. 

“Values and provenance are more important than discounts and low price to these shoppers and the segment is growing,” ​said the Soil Association.

Family-owned farm and dairy company Yeo Valley is the UK’s biggest organic brand. It’s marketing director Dan Rusga told attendees: “Consumer attitudes are changing, with the importance of quality products and traceability now at the forefront of producer, brand and retailer strategies.”

Rusga added: “Organic isn’t a badge. Consumers easily see through inauthenticity. Delivering products that continue to meet consumer needs and values, which match our own, gives us a unique opportunity to keep the organic market growing​.”

Last year, the Soil Association's Organic Market report showed how UK sales of organic grocery products outstripped conventional foods in terms of growth rates. Organic climbed 4.9% to reach £1.95 bn (€2.30 bn) compared with a 0.9% fall for non-organic.

Fish saw particularly high growth, up by 25.1% for the same period.

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