Organic sales in steady growth

Plant-based eating and an interest in environmental issues are driving growth in organics but UK still trails behind other countries.

The UK organic market has seen its eighth year of growth with sales increasing by 5.3 per cent during 2017-2018, according to the latest Soil Association Organic Market Report.

Dairy is the largest sector in organic food and drink with a 28 per cent market share; followed by fresh produce at 24 per cent; canned and packaged food at 17 per cent; and meat, fish and poultry with 10 per cent.

The stand-out growth was in chilled foods, which saw sales rise by 27 per cent, followed by alcohol, up 21 per cent.

Home delivery of organic, such as box schemes and online, is the fastest-growing channel for organics, accounting for 14 per cent of sales during the last year. By 2023, home delivery is set to account for a quarter of all sales of organic in the UK.

The major supermarkets reduced their share of the organic market from 67 to 66 per cent during the last year, although sales, excluding the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, increased by around three per cent.

Organic beauty and clothing also had a strong year of growth, up by 14 and 18 per cent respectively.

“It’s good to see that organic products continue to be ever more relevant to more people,” said chief executive of the Soil Association and farmer, Helen Browning. “They are making ethical choices on food and drink and other aspects of daily life such as waste, packaging and energy.

“I continue to be impressed with the constant innovation coming from the growing number of businesses and brands, and the variety of products now available, in the organic sector. It’s the perfect time to shout about the benefits of organic – ‘Food as it should be’.”

The rapid rise in vegan and plant-based eating has been one of the stand-out trends in food over the last year, while interest in packaging and wider environmental issues continue to influence people’s choices, the report said. There has been a 52 per cent increase in the number of people identifying as vegetarian and a 104 per cent rise in veganism since 2016, according to Ethical Consumer research.

Overall, further growth is expected from the organic market as its values are aligned with the dominating trends of mindful consumerism, environmentalism, veganism and vegetarianism.

On a global scale, the UK ranks seventh for organic sales, with the US, Germany and France as the top three markets.


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