UK organic sales fall

By John Dean - 04 Apr 2011 13:32:0 GMT
UK organic sales fall

A new report has revealed that sales of organic products fell 5.9% to £1.73 billion in the UK in 2010.

Released by the Soil Association, the Organic Market Report suggests that, despite the decline, the outlook for 2011 is a little bit more optimistic.

The guide shows that shoppers spend more than £33 million a week on organic produce, and that 86% of UK households buy green in some way. Dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables are the most popular categories, accounting for 30.5% and 23.2% of sales respectively.

Although sales through multiple retailers fell by 7.7%, to £1.25 billion, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer anticipate modest growth for 2011, according to the report. Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and the Co-operative predict level sales year on year.

Sales through major retailers accounted for 72.3% of the organic market in 2010. Sales through independent retailers and catering accounted for the remaining 27.7%, falling by 0.75% to £480 million. Box scheme and mail-order sales grew by 1% to £156 million.

The report suggests that a wide range of products have started increasing sales again, including butter, yoghurt, beer and cider, herbs and spices, pulses and packet soups.

Production of organic vegetables and organic milk both fell in 2010 but cereal production is on the increase, buoyed by high grain prices and strong demand for milling wheat.

Roger Mortlock, Soil Association deputy director, said: ''There is powerful evidence that consumers who care about the diverse benefits of organic will stay loyal, even during these tough economic times.

''Given the current uncertainties in the UK and global economy, it would be rash to make any predictions for the future organic market. But the instability caused by climate change, population growth and resource depletion mean that business as usual in food and farming is not an option.''