Organic produce has been the star performer of the organic market thanks to increased interest in healthy food, the Soil Association reveals today. With harvest time and Organic September around the corner, sales of produce grew by 7.4% in the 52 weeks to 1 July. Positive gains have also been made in dairy (+2.3%), the largest overall market sector for organic. The organic market has continued to expand in the second half of 2017, with growth in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017 at 4%.
The growth in sectors like fruit (+12.6%) and vegetables (+1.9%) is in line with heightened consumer awareness and interest in health and wellbeing, with more health-conscious consumers choosing to meet their five-a-day through healthy habits like a morning smoothie. Shoppers are increasingly looking for organic products, with 82% of UK shoppers now buying at least one organic item per year, up from 79.5% in 2016 . With more than 8,000 stores nationwide currently stocking organic products, the market is now worth over £2 billion, and expected to grow even further during this year’s Organic September.
The trend is not reserved to produce – sales of organic butter have surged by 9.2%. Once maligned by critics, butter has recently come back into favor with healthy eaters, as recent research suggests that eating it in moderation isn’t bad for us. And just last year, research from Newcastle University found that organic dairy – including butter – contains up to 50% more omega-3 fatty acids. Arla’s new launch of organic milk has helped drive growth in this sector, with organic milk up +2.9%. This is in contrast to flatlining sales in non-organic dairy.
With more people opting for fresh produce, organic tomatoes are up 13.1%, and sales of organic salad have risen 7.9% since last year, with summer growth even higher at 9.2% . Organic veg boxes are more accessible than ever and are a fantastic way for consumers to access the best of fresh UK produce. With people able to choose from a variety of providers from smaller producers like the southwest-based Community Farm to country-wide growers Riverford, there is a bounty of choice to fit every taste.
Liz Bowles, Soil Association Head of Farming, said: “It’s a positive time for organic, with strong market growth and continued CAP payments helping ensure more stability for farmers. The demand for organic food is nearing an all-time high, and with ever more research showing the potential benefits of organic.”