November 15, 2004, as reported by just-food.com: Sales of
organic food in the U.K. are up 10 percent over last
year--a pace twice that of the general grocery market.
According to figures released today by the UK’s
Soil Association retail sales of organic food are now
worth £1.12bn (US$2.08bn) and growing by £2m
The Soil Association’s Organic Food and Farming
Report 2004 also showed that the farmer is an important
reason for the increase. The proportion of organic food
sold through the supermarkets has fallen by 1% for the
second year running. Increasingly, consumers are turning
directly to farmers: sales through box schemes, farmers’
markets or farm shops have soared by 16% and are now
worth £108m a year.
Scotland continues to have over half of all organic
land in the UK, while the Southwest of England is home
to over a fifth of all organic farms and food companies.
The popularity of organic baby food continues to grow,
with sales rising by nearly 6%, compared to a slight
decline in the non-organic baby food market. Nearly
half of all baby food sold is now organic.
Around a million more organic chickens were sold last
year, increasing sales by 30% to a total of 4.5 million
birds. This was despite relatively little promotion
by the supermarkets. The Soil Association predicts that
organic poultry will continue to be the fastest growing
area of organic livestock in the coming year.
Almost no organic chicken is imported, compared with
10% of non-organic chicken, but this is not a reflection
of the organic market in general. Although imports of
organic food have steadily reduced over the last few
years, the Soil Association found that imports have
remained static at 56% in 2003-04. A fifth of the organic
meat sold in the UK is imported, while potatoes, carrots,
onions, apples and pears are still being imported by
some leading retailers even when in season here. This
is despite a target set by the Government to encourage
retailers to ensure that imports fall to 30% by 2010.
“The organic market is thriving and is being
driven by consumers who want to buy fresh, local, good-quality
seasonal food directly from the farmer. The leading
supermarkets must take note of the public’s wishes
and increase the amount of locally-sourced organic food
in store, which should come from small and medium-sized
farms,” said Patrick Holden, director of the Soil
The Soil Association says that Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s
and Waitrose have done the most to reduce their reliance
on imports and stock more organic food from UK farmers.
However, the organisation warned that slashing the price
of organic products to expand sales can have serious
consequences for producers.
“If supermarket buyers pay their suppliers significantly
less, the small, mixed family farms that are the bedrock
of the organic movement can no longer afford to supply
them,” said Holden.