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UK organics record highest growth for a decade

UK organic food sales have grown 9.5% this year, the highest growth rate seen for a decade, says the Soil Association

Latest organic sales figures, part of wider UK grocery data from analysts Nielsen, were revealed this week during a three-day virtual conference organised by the Soil Association Certification. 

They show that while the total organic market in the UK last year recored 4.5% growth, sales in 2020 (up to 3 October) have gown 9.5%. 

Presenting the data, Finn Cottle, trade consultant at Soil Association Certification, said: “This is the highest growth that we’ve seen for over a decade and it certainly means that our target of £2.5 billion for this year its going to be surpassed, and that we should reach two £2.6 billion. 

“This is the highest growth that we’ve seen for over a decade and it certainly means that our target of £2.5 billion for this year its going to be surpassed

£2.6 billion is actually a bit of a milestone because it means that £50 million a week will have been purchased as organic during 2020.”

Commenting on new research carried out for the Soil Association by The Crow Flies, Cottle said: “In my three decades in the food retailing industry, I have to say that it’s probably the most change that I’ve seen ever in terms of both market growth and the market structure.”

The new study, she said, confirmed the striking changes in shopping habits during the Covid crisis identified by other research. “For example, it shows reduced confidence in shopping in store, and in particular a fall in top up visits.” 

The big surge in online shopping, she added, had fed through to organic in beneficial ways. “A lot of shoppers have been forced to think differently and to search out new ideas – maybe a box scheme, or new meal solution. This has required organic businesses to be so agile and to adapt to different business models – and we’ve seen some great examples of that over the last months.”

Other findings included “a desire for self sufficiency and a new appreciation of food, and return to cooking more at home”. Having more time on their hands, shoppers had been able to make more informed choices about the food they buy “and think more about its back-story”. All of this, said Cottle, “bodes really well for organic”. 

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