Scotland organic sales up 19.4%

Scotland organic sales up 19.4%

UK Organic Market worth £2.2 billion, with sales in Scotland rising 19.4%

The Soil Association’s 2018 Organic Market Report reveals the UK organic market is now worth more than ever at £2.2 billion, growing 6% in 2017. The market has now had six years of steady growth, with organic accounting for 1.5% of the total UK food and drink market.

Sales of organic in Scotland were growing at a rate of 19.4% in 2017, and account for 6.5% of all UK sales. Scotland-based Soil Association licensees reported even bigger growth at 28%, with interest in organic buoyed by strong government support through the Organic Ambitions plan, which is helping to raise public awareness. This strong growth looks set to continue, with 100% of Scottish independent retailers expecting organic sales to maintain or increase in 2018.

Isla McCulloch, Business Development Manager for Soil Association Scotland, said: “Consumer research we carried out last year showed very clearly that people want to see organic become more available, both when shopping and eating out, with half of the people we spoke to saying they would choose a restaurant with organic and sustainable credentials over one without. This approach reflects a growing understanding of what organic really means – for health and for the environment – and is also influencing shopping habits as people put increasing importance on provenance and trust, values that organic delivers on. It’s also increasingly seen as the healthy choice, so it ticks a lot of boxes for the customer.”

graph showing where organic sales are coming from

Key trends highlighted in the report, for the whole of the UK, include:

  • Supermarket sales of organic grew by 4.2% in 2017, while non-organic supermarket sales increased by just over 2% 
  • Independent retailers increased sales of organic by 9.7%
  • Sales of organic for home delivery, including box schemes, grew by 9.5% and now account for almost 13% of the organic market
  • Sales in foodservice, including through the Organic Served Here scheme, grew by 10.2%
  • The organic and natural beauty market was worth £75.9million in 2017, up 24%
  • Sales of organic textiles grew by 25%

This year has seen booming sales in independent retail and home delivery: expanding online ranges, and growing interest in box schemes, means these areas are now growing at a faster rate than supermarket, and between them account for almost 30% of the organic market.

For producers, more interest in home delivery is a valuable opportunity to grow their business and to make the most of the increasing public interest in buying British and buying local.

Reuben Chesters of LocavorePicture: Reuben Chesters of Locavore

Locavore run three small farms, a veg box scheme and a farm shop in Glasgow. Owner Reuben Chesters said: “In 2017 we saw the fastest growth to date for our box scheme: people come to us because we’re organic but they’re also interested in buying local, so the fact that we grow a lot of our own produce is a big draw. Going forward we’d like to do more with food service: we already work closely with Food for Life to deliver veg boxes to local schools, and now we’re seeing more restaurants and cafes show in interest in organic and local produce.”

The future for organic is looking bright. With the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme now open for applications, more farmers can apply for support to convert their land to organic. David Michie, Head of Farming and Land Use said “the AECS scheme has some really attractive payment rates for farmers – and with a 5 year contract they provide some income certainty for Scottish farmers in these uncertain times.”