2017 - another great year for organic

2017 - another great year for organic

2017 saw the organic food, drink, beauty and textiles sectors all grow as consumers look for more sustainably and transparently produced products, particularly as innovation from licensees has led to thousands of new and exciting developments in store. Our recent research, to be launched with the Organic Market Report, really shows how organic fits with the current food trends and needs of not just millennials, but across the spectrum. We are proud at how much the market has grown, but we couldn't have done it without you, our licensees.

Soil Association Certification offers support to grow your business, whether that is a multi-national brand, an organic retailer or a small vegetable producer across the UK. As well as tailored marketing support to help get the organic message to customers, there is data available about organic - market and consumer, and through the sector forums - that you can use to plan your business. Access to market takes the form of meet the buyer days and meet the caterer for the ever-increasing food service opportunity. Our expert technical and certification advice teams are on hand to provide up to date information so please do get in touch if there is anything you need or would like to find out more about.

Here are some of the highlights from 2017, with another year of growth – read on to find out how you can get involved and help grow your organic business in 2018.

Sales of organic in supermarkets grew by over 4%, with new figures to come for the organic market report - this will be the sixth consecutive year of growth and this looks set to continue into 2018.

Land in conversion has been increasing and we have seen a growing number of new licensees joining us. We offer a full support package to those wanting to convert to organic. Get in touch to find out more.

Organic in the news reached more readers than ever. From lifestyle online publications like Refinery 29 to the Metro, Independent and The Sun, and with more coverage than ever in Farming and Trade press, showing an increasing interest from consumers and business alike.

Our award-winning BOOM (Best of Organic Market) Awards are one of the highlights of the organic events calendar and the only award ceremony of its kind dedicated to organic products and producers. We had a fantastic number of businesses, journalists, retailers (and members of the public) getting involved. Following the last two incredibly successful years, we’re looking to run them bi-annually and when we return, they will be even bigger and better! We are delighted to announce that the next BOOM Awards will take place in June 2019, with entries opening in January 2019. In the meantime, we’re happy to say that we're working in collaboration with Fresh Produce Journal to introduce an organic category in the UK Fruit & Vegetable Awards for 2018.

We had great success with Organic September this year, where Nielsen Scantrack data revealed that organic food sales grew by a fantastic 7.1% in the 4 weeks to 30 September. More shoppers engaged with the campaign - media coverage achieved 61m and we had a social media reach of over 38m in the month of September alone. The Why I Choose Organic video had almost 1,000 views and the new Organic September Saturday saw over 150 independent stores join in with Organic September Saturday, as well as 19 events taking place throughout the month - this included a takeover at Whole Foods, hosting a pop-up kitchen, with 13 brands and bloggers engaging with the public.

Organic beauty continues to go from strength to strength as interest in natural alternatives grows. Our voice within the organic cosmetics industry has never been so important, with the market growing at 24% and organic beauty week reaching 6.2 million online consumers, including the bestselling YOU magazine beauty box. 

We worked with IFOAM UK to represent the whole organic industry in the Brexit process. This includes ongoing discussions with George Eustice and with IFOAM International, taking a major role in trying to influence the outcome of the proposed new Organic Regulation, including lobbying Defra and the Minister to ensure that the new regulation is not implemented if fundamental issues with the new proposals aren’t resolved. We’ve also been leading an ongoing constructive dialogue with Defra on implementation of current European regulations in a way that is best for the UK market.

Over 3,000 new products were certified by Soil Association Certification in the last 6 months alone and we’re excited to follow the progress of some really innovative product categories. We look forward to seeing what comes out in 2018. 

We issued an updated version of the ‘What You Can Say When Selling Organic’ booklet this year and saw really positive uptake of the Organic, Food As It Should Be messaging, helping consumers understand what organic is in the confused sea of messaging and claims. Research shows that 80% of shoppers would be more likely to buy when they see Organic - Food As It Should Be.

The Soil Association charity ran high level, successful campaigns – these included Save Our Antibiotics (part of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, of which we are a founding member), which called for the reduction of routine antibiotics use in farming; and a reduction for maize subsidies (grown for use in anaerobic digestion) from the government by 50% to protect the health of our soils. Through its Innovative Farming programme, they’ve brought together over 400 organic and non-organic farmers, as well as advisors, researchers and businesses, to try and tackle some of the stark challenges farming faces.

Our Out to Lunch campaign continued to drive improvements in children’s food on the high street. The 2017 league table showed notable improvements, with 13 chains now serving a portion of veg or salad with every meal, up from 6 chains in 2013, and 12 chains, including Wetherspoons and Giraffe, now including organic ingredients on the menu, up from 4 chains in 2013. In 2018, we will be turning our attention to popular attractions, such as zoos, museums and visitor centres, compiling a new league table and encouraging these attractions to serve healthier and more sustainable meals.

Campaign for Clarity is an initiative to put an end to “greenwashing brands making claims that their products are ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when they contain ingredients that are not permitted in organic certification or are made up of less than 1% organic contents. The campaign called on brands to ‘come clean’ about the chemicals used in their products, encouraging people to sign a petition and tweet the hashtag #comecleanaboutbeauty to spread the word about the campaign. Over 4,500 people signed the petition, which was a great signifier that consumers want brands to be more open about what goes into their products and also helped to inform them about what organic beauty really is.

As if that wasn’t enough, there were markets, pop-ups, blogger days, and ‘Meet the Buyers’ events; stands at NOPE, Speciality Fine Food Fair, Expo West, the Royal Highland Show and the Royal Welsh Show; training days for over 250 retailers and team members; new store openings and much, much, more. Thanks to everyone who got involved - we’ve really enjoyed working with you and the team at Soil Association Certification is looking forward to achieving even more with you in 2018.


Dates for your Diary

2018 – Continued growth for the organic market is on the cards. Get involved and join us at the shows below:

22nd January: The 2nd "Give It Some Welly" event is taking place in Edinburgh, linking up restaurants and producers around our Organic Served Here award scheme

19th February: The 3rd "Give It Some Welly" event is taking place in Edinburgh, linking up restaurants and producers around our Organic Served Here award scheme

9th February: National Pizza Day - join us and Foodism to promote how easy eating organic (pizza) can be

28th February:  Organic Market Report 2018: Highlights and Insights Event at Triodos Bank, Bristol

14th March: Marketing Organic Briefing - the latest research and “What You Can Say” messaging.

20th March: "Crossing the Pond" US Export Event

22nd - 23rd April: Find us at Natural and Organic Products Europe Show, London, where we're once again holding a joint pavilion with the Organic Trade Board. We'll also be doing talks on highlights from the Organic Market Report and consumer research, the support we offer to those in the independent retail industry, and organic beauty.

1st May: Food Service Supplier Day at Riverford

7th – 13th May: Organic Beauty & Well-Being Week (There will be a pop-up event running from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September, location TBC)

13th June: OTB’s Wake Up to Organic

21st – 24th June: Royal Highland Show

29th – 31st August: Natural & Organic Products Asia Show, Hong Kong

September: Organic September

2nd – 4th September: Speciality Fine Food Fair

15th September: Organic September Saturday

14th October: Natural Health Trade Summit

December: Organic Christmas