Organic grocery market ‘outpaces non organic’

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Organic sales are rising, fuelled by more spending from younger consumers
Organic sales are rising, fuelled by more spending from younger consumers

Related tags: Soil association, Organic food

Sales of organic grocery products climbed by 4.9% last year to £1.95bn – outstripping the non-organic grocery market which decreased by 0.9% – according to the Soil Association’s 2016 Organic Market Report.

The sales boost represented the third year of consecutive growth for the UK organic sector, as shoppers spent an extra £1.73M a week on organic products. The steady rise in sales mirrored a global trend of growth and widening interest in the organic sector, claimed the association.

The Soil Association said: “This year’s figures highlight a shift in consumer shopping habits, moving towards independent retailers.

‘Spending over £544M’

“The independent and box scheme sectors have both benefited from these changing habits and grew by a combined 8.2% in 2015. Consumers are now spending over £544M every year through these channels.”

The star organic performers were: jams and spreads up by 28.1% last year, fish up by 25.1%, oils and vinegars up by 17.5% and tea by 12.8%.

The sustained interest in organic was partly driven by an increase in young and socially conscious millennials with strong social, ethical and environmental values, claimed the association.

These consumers were said to be choosing organic because they wanted to know the origins of their food and were willing to pay more for products with quality assurance standards supporting the environment, society and animal welfare. 

Soil Association Certification chief executive Martin Sawyer said this was a hugely exciting time for the organic sector.

£2bn in organic sales

“The market is set to break through the £2bn mark in 2016 and reach levels seen before the recession.”​ 

  • Martin Sawyer, Soil Association

‘Broadest choice of organic’

“The market is set to break through the £2bn mark in 2016 and reach levels seen before the recession,”​ said Sawyer. “Thanks to the growth of online, it is now possible for retailers to connect consumers with the broadest choice of organic products.”

Catering was also said to be an organic sales highlight of last year, as organic food used by the catering sector grew by 15.2%. Organic food within the catering sector was worth £64.3M. The sales boost was attributed partly to the £9M spent on organic food through the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark scheme plus organic milk in high street chains.

Meanwhile the Soil Association claimed the future looked bright for organic food and drink, with research published recently in the British Journal of Nutrition​ confirming organic dairy and meat was nutritionally different from its non-organic equivalent.

Organic Market Report 2016

• Sales of UK organic products worth £1.95bn

• UK organic market grew by 4.9%

• Supermarket sales of organic products grew by 3.2%                                                               

• Independent retailer sales rose 7.5%

• Box schemes and online sales rose 9.1%                                                

• Organic catering sector grew 15.2%

• Organic has a 1.4% share of food and drink market

Source: Soil Association

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