Consumer: Shoppers buy more organic goods

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A new report has revealed the region’s shoppers have bought more organic food – the first rise in four years.

A new report has revealed an increase in sales among Yorkshire shoppers of organic fruit and veg, eggs and chicken – for the first time in four years.

The Soil Association’s annual Organic Market Report has revealed that the organic sector has seen growth of 2.8 per cent in the past year, which is the first time the organic market has seen annual growth since 2008.

When surveyed, just over one in ten adults in Yorkshire said they had bought organic produce in the past week, with some of the region’s most popular organic purchases being fruit and veg – at 47 per cent, eggs – at 37 per cent, and chicken – at 28 per cent, according to all those who had bought organic in the last 12 months.

Four out of five households now buy organic produce, with shoppers under 34 stating they are willing to spend the most on organic products.

The main reasons for Yorkshire consumers choosing organic were: “it contains fewer chemicals and pesticides”, “it’s natural and unprocessed” and “it’s healthier for me and my family”.

Organic sales are pushing slightly ahead of the overall grocery sales for 2013, which finished the year at around +2.1 per cent.

The 2014 Organic Market Report shows that the organic market is now worth £1.79billion. Those brands that carry the Soil Association logo have had an even stronger 2013, with growth of more than five per cent.

And it seems this trend is set to continue in 2014, with organic sales for the first four weeks of the year seeing growth of +2.5 per cent – way outperforming overall grocery sales, which were down -3.2 per cent.

The organic food market appears to be recovering across many different sectors, with meat, fish and poultry – at +2.2 per cent, vegetables – at +3.4 per cent and dairy – at +4.4 per cent all seeing positive growth throughout the year.

Of those from Yorkshire who had recently bought organic, 47 per cent said they are intending to buy more organic fruit and veg and 37 per cent are intending to purchase more organic eggs in 2014.

Speaking about the report, Rob Sexton, chief executive of Soil Association Certification said: “To see the organic market showing such strong signs of growth, particularly when grocery sales as a whole are slowing, shows just how much potential there is in the organic sector and further highlights the growing public demand for organic and food logos that they can trust.

“The message to supermarkets and other retailers and organic businesses is clear: if you make organic goods available and promote them well, consumers will respond by continuing to purchase the products they have confidence in. In addition research has shown that organic shoppers expect to spend more on organic products this year than last so we have reason to be positive about the outlook for organic in 2014 and beyond. Now, the priority needs to be ensuring a greater choice of organic produce on supermarket shelves.” Despite the continued demand from UK consumers, figures from Defra report that producer and livestock numbers and the UK’s organic land area decreased in the year to December 2012.

The numbers of organic producers and processors also fell by 6.3 per cent to 6,487. Currently around 3.5 per cent (606,000 hectares) of the agricultural land area in the UK is organic. Mr Sexton added: “2013 has seen a decline in the amount of agricultural land in the UK that is organic and we know that many farmers are concerned about the profitability of organic. We have strong evidence to show that organic farming systems are more profitable than non-organic and we know that demand for organic is increasing amongst consumers.

“A serious injection of producer confidence is needed, in the shape of increased commitment from retailers and policy makers to help support existing organic farmers and grow the market in future, ensuring organic supply can meet increasing consumer demand.”

Download the report at: www.soilassociation.org/marketreport

KEY FIGURES IN REPORT

Sales of organic products in the UK grew by 2.8 per cent in 2013;

The UK organic market is now worth £1.79 billion in sales;

The rate of growth was above the annual inflation rate of 2 per cent.

Growth has been particularly strong in the dairy sector (+4.4 per cent): organic milk sales grew by 5 per cent and yoghurt sales by per cent.

Sales of organic vegetables increased by 3.4 per cent.

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