Overall growth of organic through supermarkets in the 52 weeks to 18 June has increased over 5% this year. According to Nielsen data, organic growth has continued through the first half of 2016 and is now +5.2% compared to +3.2% at the end of 2015, against a decline of -0.9% in non-organic sales for same period.
On Friday, The Soil Association said it is confident that the organic market will reach and exceed £2 billion by the end of 2016, thanks in part to a boost from its own Organic September initiative, and despite uncertainty in the market resulting from the change in government and recent Brexit vote.
Commenting on the predictions, Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification said, "Despite an uncertain market following Brexit, Soil Association Certification is positive about the future of organic and we expect this year’s Organic September to have an even bigger impact than before. Market growth is already strong and there is a clear demand for organic, environmentally friendly and sustainable purchasing with many young professionals.
The UK will still be required to comply with EU organic standards as minimum to maintain the flow of organic products to and from the EU and the Soil Association will continue to influence and improve the marketplace for organic businesses."
Though fresh produce and packaged food like cereals and tea have been selling well in 2016, organic meat has performed best, with beef sales increasing significantly this year, which Soil Association puts down to research from Newcastle University, published in February, which looked at nutritional differences between organic meat and milk. The organic market has also benefitted from a move towards independent shops and away from large multiples from shoppers; with sales from independents on the rise, veg boxes and online shopping have all seen sales of organic good increase.
In previous years, though the organic market had returned to growth in the UK, following a multi-year contraction in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, organic farmland continued to decline. However, SA said on Friday that it has seen an increased interest in conversion to organic from farmers.
Next month marks Organic September; over the course of the month Soil Association will be promoting organic food and farming and the month is being supported by a number of major supermarkets this year, including Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado. The retailers will be hosting in-store promotional campaigns, magazine features and sampling throughout September.
Mark Haynes, Managing Director at G’s Fresh commented, "It’s clear that there is a growing demand for organic at the moment. Organic September is a great way to focus customers’ attention on organic and link products right through the supply chain, from point of sale to producer. Organic fresh produce is doing very well so we’re really pleased that the Soil Association is continuing to support the whole industry for an added push in September."