Organic Market Report 2022 reveals exceptional resilience throughout 2021
Released today, the Soil Association Certification's Organic Market Report 2022 reveals the UK’s organic market is now worth a record £3.05 billion.
The organic market has enjoyed ten years of positive growth despite the pandemic and the on-going challenges thrown up by Brexit; and it continued to grow by 5.2% in 2021, with shoppers spending almost £60 million on organic products every week.
The 2022 Organic Market Report also reveals:
- Nearly £60m a week is spent on organic food and drink as consumers prioritise sustainability and health – research shows consumers increasingly link organic food with health and the environment
- This was the 10th year of consecutive growth – despite a year of unprecedented challenges
- The total organic market has seen a phenomenal 23% increase in just two years (UK organic sales in 2019 were £2.48bn)
- Online sales (including box schemes) enjoyed another great year with 13% growth worth £558m – when combined with supermarket home delivery sales one in four organic products purchased online
The report shows strong performance across all food and drink sectors including supermarkets (+2.4%)*, independent retailers (+9%), food service (+3.3%), and with particularly strong performance for online and box schemes which together delivered growth of 13% worth £558m.
Soil Association Certification Business Development Director Clare McDermott said: “Despite challenges across all aspects of production, supply and the market, organic businesses have shown phenomenal resilience and responded to (continually increasing) shopper demand for products that support both health and the environment. Shoppers are increasingly looking for products that reflect their values and organic is meeting that need.
“The wider organic choice available online is bringing new shoppers to the category. Box scheme sales continue to be strong as shoppers look for provenance and traceability in their choices and over a fifth of organic food and drink sold through supermarkets is now online**.
“With shoppers in the UK now spending £60 million a week on organic, there is a huge opportunity for organic businesses to innovate both in channel and product and continue growing the market.”
Sales of organic are at their highest ever with sales of organic food and drink significantly outperforming non-organic food and drink as the trend for sustainable and healthy options has clearly ‘stuck’ with more and more consumers seeking climate and nature friendly options.
Innovation and NPD are driving sales across organic with over 4,000 innovations registered with Soil Association Certification in 2021 – from brand new items, to reformulated products including tea and coffee, to new plant-based items and in established categories like dairy.
Online and box schemes
Online purchases have continued to show phenomenal growth which, including box schemes, have seen total sales growth of 13%. This is on top of the exceptional performance the sector saw in 2020 (36.2%) showing a massive 54% increase since 2019 when sales were at £362.9m. Customers who bought organic online and used box schemes following the pandemic have continued with their new shopping habits. Online has enabled retailers to offer a wider range and choice of products which is attributed with attracting more customers to organic and its strong growth. Amazon is now the largest online retailer of organic in the UK with over 8,5000 Soil Association Certification products.
Hannah Shipton, Managing Director of the organic delivery service Abel & Cole, said: “2021 proved to be a strong year for Abel & Cole, with customers sticking with us, and joining, as lockdown eased, reflecting the exceptional growth of the organic market. With increasing consumer awareness of the need to shop sustainably, we expect to see this interest grow, and we plan to widen the range of organic products to continue inspiring positive shopping choices.”
After a huge increase in 2020, sales of organic in supermarkets in 2021 levelled but still grew by 2.4%*. So organic food and drink sales in in the supermarkets including home delivery was worth £1.97 billion*. Waitrose & Partners, Sainsbury’s and Tesco still dominate multiple retailer sales of organic, with a 65% share of the market.
In the supermarkets the top four organic categories contribute three quarters (74%) of sales and are growing ahead of their non-organic equivalents*. These are dairy (with almost £500m sales up 0.7% on 2020), produce (£438m up 1.8%), ambient grocery (£315m down 6.2%), and meat, fish and poultry (£202m up 5.5%). Organic has been given more focus across supermarkets with Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Tesco, Waitrose & Partners and Marks & Spencer getting behind Organic September in 2021 boosting organic sales in that month by 1.3%*** versus 2020. They also gave greater prominence and marketing support to organic categories and products across stores and online across the year.
Hero categories include tea and coffee with nearly £1 in every £10* in supermarkets spent on organic tea and for coffee – in the year to 1st January 2022 showed a 12%* increase in sales. Beer, wine and spirits were also up 16.9%* in 2021.
It has been another mixed year for independent retailers selling organic but the sector has come back into growth as more stores have been able to open. Some city centre retailers have been negatively affected by more people working from home but many local stores have benefited from this change. Overall the sector has seen an increase in sales of 9% in 2021.
Organic beauty, wellbeing and textiles
Sales of certified organic and natural beauty products grew 15% to nearly £138m in 2021 and sales of Soil Association Certification certified organic textiles grew by 39% worth over £68m. Demand is outstripping supply of certified organic cotton, as more brands and retailers commit to sourcing organic cotton as part of their sustainability strategies. (A separate Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Market report will be published in March).
The challenge for UK farmers and supply chains now is to step up to meet the demand presented by the strong growth in the organic market.
Land in conversion is not increasing sufficiently fast enough and there is a need to develop robust UK supply chains. At present more ingredients and products are being imported to support increased demand which is not what anyone wants. There needs to be robust supply chains – and our research shows consumers want to buy British.
The latest figures from DEFRA show that there was a 12% rise in the area of land being converted to organic in 2020 compared to the previous year, however, the total area of land farmed organically has remained the same, increasing by just 0.8% compared to 2019.
The Organic Market Report 2022 is published with support by Triodos Bank UK.
The Soil Association Certification 2022 Organic Market Report Launch Event is on Thursday 10 February 2022, 10:00 – 11:15am and is free to attend for anyone with an interest in the latest insights, trends and performance of the UK organic market.
* Source: NielsenIQ Scantrack data for the Organic category Soil Association defined: for the 12-month period ending 1 January 2022 for the Great Britain total retail market (copyright @2022 The NielsenIQ Company).
** Source: NielsenIQ Homescan for the organic category FMCG 52 weeks ending 11 September 2021.
*** Source: NielsenIQ Scantrack for the four weeks up to 25 September 2021.