How Unicorn Grocery are making organic food more accessible

How Unicorn Grocery are making organic food more accessible

The price of our food is directly affected by the climate crisis.

According to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, climate-related issues already cost UK households £600 a year in increased food bills.

Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report 2024 has shown that, as food bills get higher, 49% of consumers see cost as the main barrier to buying sustainable products. But despite this, research has shown that shoppers are increasingly engaged with sustainability. Healthy, sustainable food should be valued, affordable and accessible to everyone. 

This is the ethos that Unicorn Grocery, a worker-owned co-op in Manchester, bring to the table. Now in their 28th year, they’re working hard to ensure that good quality organic food is accessible. To achieve this, they cut prices on everyday organic essentials, making them available to everyone.

Unicorn Grocery Director Dan Monks said: “Over the past few years there’s been more of an appreciation of what organic means, and the benefits it can have for health and the environment.”

“Access and availability are very important to us. We want everyone, regardless of income, to have access to staple ingredients for cooking like onions, carrots and potatoes.

“We have a loyal and diverse customer base, and we’re seeing more people engaged with organic food and the benefits it offers for health and the planet – we’re very optimistic for the future.”

Organic values

Unicorn was established in 1994 by a small group of local people motivated to sell quality food at affordable prices.

To do this, they’ve been checking their prices against supermarket price tags on everyday staples, publishing the results online and on instore signs – giving their customers a clearer idea of the true cost of their food.

grocery shop

The success of this is partially due to their work with local suppliers – which gives them the peace of mind that they’ll be able to sell their produce long-term.

Dan said: “We price-check against supermarkets so our customers can see that organic can be more affordable, which challenges perceptions around higher costs for smaller retailers – when in actual fact we're often the cheaper option.

“We're able to do this because we buy direct from farmers and growers, working with them to crop plan what they grow for the year.”

The grocer is constantly planning for the future, and with the successes of this year they’re building on existing relationships and starting new long-term projects – including supporting a long-term agroforestry project at Merseyside’s Kindling Farm.

Dan continued: “We’re excited to be working with Kindling Farm, supporting them growing trees on their farm which will provide them with jobs and us with more produce to sell.

“We reinvest our profits back into local farms – it’s the best way to ensure our business can continue to provide quality food to our customers, and to secure nature-friendly farming for the future.

Interested in becoming organic? Get information and support with applying by contacting Soil Association Certification.