Contract Period : 01/06/2022 - 01/06/2024
Main Funder : John Pain
ORC Staff Contact : Rowan Dumper-Pollard
The Marketing of Organics Project is a three-year ORC research programme, looking to identify clearer routes to growth in organic food supply chains and a better understanding of consumer perceptions of organic produce.
The UK organic market saw a growth of more than 9.5% in 2020, where the sector outperformed non-organic market growth by an average of 3% across different food types. As such, there is unrealised potential for the marketing of a wider range of organic products in the UK and to grow the share of organic in food retailing. The organic sector is also under-prepared for the transition from smaller “niche” market strategies towards being a significant presence in future mainstream food and drink retail. Currently in the UK, organic produce in mainstream retail is competing directly with cheaper, non-organic produce which presents numerous challenges for the organic sector and many pre-conceptions of the organic brand to be overcome. As such, we are engaged in a 2-year consumer-focused research to investigate what the main barriers and opportunities are to grow the UK organic market.
Building on existing literature, our approach is to situate the food consumer at the centre of a densely interconnected socio-technical system in order to better identify the full range of barriers to organic shopping they may face. For this we consider food shopping as an intersection between complex individual behavior and the social, political, technological and informational infrastructures that make up society. Doing so ensures our research goes beyond assumptions that unsustainable patterns of food consumption are the product of individual choice alone and allows a more comprehensive investigation into deeper levers for food system change. We identify four domains of influence over the consumer where barriers and enabling factors for food consumption choices are present:
At the Organic Research Centre we always look to adopt a holistic approach to research. We feel that for a research programme to offer a holistic approach to this field of study it must simultaneously acknowledge these four domains of influence on consumption choices. Tackling the issue of barriers to organic sector growth from many angles will enable a more detailed investigation and outputs that could benefit a wider range of stakeholder groups.
Stakeholder Engagement Workshop held at Yeo Valley Farms – attended by OTB, Yeo Valley, Soil Association, Lucy MacLennan and John Pain – feeding into the survey design to ensure it has a relevance and use for the sector.
Leading the project