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Organic produce sector worth more than £2.2bn

The UK organic market is not worth more than £2.2bn, growing 6% in 2017, according to a new report.

The Soil Association’s 2018 Organic Market Report said the last calendar year saw sales of organic produce in independent retail grow by 9.7%, and in home delivery by 9.5%, with almost 30% of all organic sales now taking place online or on the high street.

Supermarket sales of organic have also continued to increase, rising by 4.2% this year, while non-organic sales increased by just over 2%.

Clare McDermott, business development director, Soil Association Certification, said: “One of the biggest stories for organic over the past couple of years has been the rise of online shopping, and it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

“Driven by convenience, an ever broader range of choice, and by younger generations entering the market, it’s no surprise online sales are outperforming the traditional supermarket on organic.

“As a result, home delivery already accounts for almost 13% of the organic market and the expectation is that this could reach as much as 25% in the near future. It’s a good fit for organic too: the local, fresh, farm-to-door approach of box schemes is in line with the ethos of organic and appeals to consumers who value food provenance.”

Key growth areas highlighted in the report included:

  • Produce, up 6.5%, had the highest value growth, equating to over £20m in sales
  • Chilled foods had impressive growth at 21%, now accounting for 3.4% of the total UK organic market
  • Dairy increased sales by around 3%, and still have the highest share of the organic food and drink market at nearly 29%
  • The popularity of organic wine continues to grow, with sales of beers/wines/spirits increasing by over 8% and many supermarkets expanding their ranges of wines

Rose Price, head buyer at Ocado, said: “We know how important organic is to our customers, and that’s why we’ve spent the last year expanding our ranges of organic to meet rising demand. As a result of a recent ‘Meet the Buyer’ event, we are hoping to launch over 100 new products during 2018.

“We see no end to the strong growth in organic, as the market has been buoyed by a new generation of shoppers looking to spend their earnings on food and drink that is not only better for them, but also for animal welfare and the environment.”

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