The figures from Nielsen, as presented by Mike Watkins at the Soil Association annual market briefing, show growth in the organic grocery market of +3.2% for the 4 weeks to 16 August 2014 compared with a fall in the non-organic grocery market of -0.9% in the same period. This continues a trend where organic sales have been growing at +1.2% compared with a stagnant non-organic market for the year to 16 August 2014. Organic sales in the UK now make up a 1.3% share of the £96 billion food and drink market.
Despite household budgets still being under pressure, 83% of UK households now buy organic in some form and 29% of shoppers are willing to pay more for products that are ethically produced or kinder to the environment. The growth trend is reflected in Soil Association licensees’ organic sales which increased 8% year on year, with an 11% increase since April 2014 . The acceleration in growth follows research into the nutritional benefits of organic crops compared with non-organic crops, published by Newcastle University in July.
As part of the Soil Association’s Organic September campaign, Small Changes, Big Difference, the Market Briefing was an opportunity for the organic supply chain to hear from suppliers, retailers and industry experts.
Speaking at the market briefing, Rob Sexton, chief executive of Soil Association Certification 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 Soil Association market briefing also heard that new innovations and market opportunities are not restricted to the retail supply chain. Organic products will become more widely available to the foodservice industry, a market that has been invigorated by the Soil Association’s Catering Mark. James Mills from Brakes announced a new organic range of products, increasing access to organic across the catering industry. Attendees also heard from Ben Woodgate of Whole Foods Market, Andrew Ovens of Produce World and Ben Patten of Farm Drop, highlighting the wide variety of businesses and channels investing in, and supporting, organic products.
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