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UK organic market hits £2.33 billion

11 February 2019

A report from the Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report reveals that the UK’s organic market is now worth £2.33 billion after a 5.3% growth in sales in 2018, well ahead of the non-organic market. 

The figure represents the highest ever value placed on the organic market, following seven consecutive years of growth, and means that almost £45 million is spent on organic a week.
 
Organic accounts for 1.5% of the overall food and drink market in the UK and is expected to be worth £2.5 billion by 2020.
  
In the report, Soil Association Certification identifies changes in shopping habits as drivers of growth, as more shoppers order online knowing that there is a wider choice of organic products available.
 
Other key areas of growth identified by the report include:

• Supermarket sales of organic, excluding discounters, increased by 3.3%.
• Independent retailers saw sales increasing by 6.2%, buoyed by healthy and hyper-local shopping habits and wider organic ranges from wholesalers.
• Organic sales into foodservice grew almost 8% to £90.9 million in 2018, supported by continued interest in Soil Association’s Food For Life scheme, despite public spending cuts
• Soil Association Certification licensee sales are up 9%, well ahead of the overall organic market.
Across the organic market, categories that continue to drive growth include wines, chilled foods and canned and packaged grocery. Figures show that the chilled convenience sector –including tofu and fresh vegetarian product – saw sales grow by over 25%. Sales of fresh fruit, salad and vegetables increased by approximately £15 million during the year.
 
Clare McDermott, business development director, Soil Association Certification, said: “Organic is in the right place to capitalise on many of the consumer trends we are currently seeing across retail. We know that more shoppers are looking to purchase sustainable products to reduce their impact on the planet, and this has combined with an increasing value being placed on transparency and traceability in the food system, more local and online shopping, and increasing interest in healthy options – where organic is often seen as a signpost to healthy choice.”
 
The increasing consumer demand for organic has meant more farmers going into organic farming. The latest statistics from Defra – covering 2017 – show that the amount of organic certified land has increased by 1.9%, the first rise since 2008.  Land in conversion also increased by nearly 30%, one-third consecutive year of growth, and Soil Association Certification expect this to continue, as, post-Brexit, consumer demand for products from UK producers and sustainable agroecological systems could rise.


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