Indies contribute to organic sales increase
Sales of organic products in the UK have returned to 2009 levels thanks in part to a growth surge in independent retailers and online shopping, according to the Soil Association.
The organic accreditation body’s 2015 Organic Market Report stated that independents saw a 5.7% rise in sales in 2014 and now account for £286.5m or 15.4% of the total UK organic sales (£1.86bn).
Online retailers and box schemes saw growth of 11.6% to £216.3m while the multiples reported a moderate 2.2% increase although they still account for 70% of total UK sales.
The Soil Association highlighted that these increases have all come in the face of falling food prices (-1.9%) and spending (-1.1%).
More than a quarter of all organic sales in 2014 were down to dairy, which increased 6.5% in contrast to falling non-organic dairy sales (-3%).
Sales of organic eggs and poultry were up 15.8% and 8.2%, respectively, as were those in fresh fruit (6.4%), tea (13.7%), cereals (4.2%) and biscuits (7.2%). Organic vegetables fell by 2%.
Soil Association Certification symbol-holders posted a combined sales increase of 7.7%.
“Three years ago, commentators were writing off the organic market in the UK,” said Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning. “Now, with a third year of steady growth, and against a falling overall food market, it’s clear that reports of organic food’s demise were premature to say the least.”
Browning added that an improving economy had contributed to the upswing but she praised retailers and manufacturers that had continued to invest in organic products.