Shoppers, meanwhile, are increasingly being bombarded with rival claims such as 'free-range', 'local', 'pesticide-free', 'fair trade' and ‘natural’, many of which seem to resonate more strongly with punters than the all-encompassing organic message.
But there are still reasons to be cheerful, with organic sales recovering steadily, a new marketing campaign in the pipeline, and the publication of new research into the nutritional benefits of organic food eagerly awaited in January, Organic Farmers & Growers chief executive Richard Jacobs tells Elaine Watson.
Kantar Worldpanel data on UK retail sales of organic food and drink:
LATEST SALES: Organic sales in the 12 weeks to October 3, 2010 vs the same period in 2009 were down 2% (this represents a significant improvement on the previous 12 week period, when sales were down 6%)
RANKINGS: The biggest categories in organics are vegetables (£141m), followed by milk (£135m), babyfood (£118m), yogurt (£83m), fruit (£68m) and chocolate confectionery (£35m). The period covers the 52 weeks to September 5, 2010.
SALES GROWTH: In the 52 weeks to September 5, 2010, babyfood was the fastest growing category in organics, up 14.6%, followed by cider at 3.4%. yogurt at 3.3%, butter at 1.6% and herbs and spices at 1.5%. The biggest loser was fruit, down 13.1%, followed by hen's eggs down 7.5%, fresh poultry and vegetables, sales of which were both down 5.5%.
SUPERMARKET OWN LABEL SALES: Sales of organic own-label products in Waitrose were up 9% in the 12 weeks to September 5, 2010. Morrisons saw own-label organic sales dip 2% over the period, followed by Sainsbury's, which saw a 10% dip, Tesco, which saw a 19% dip and Asda which saw a 23% dip.