The Soil Association Organic market report : Conference bloggers : Soil Association

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The Soil Association Organic market report

Graham Keating - 02 March 2012

Graham KeatingThe Soil Association’s Finn Cottle introduced the latest Soil Association Organic market report, published today.

UK organic sales were down by 3.7% last year; bad news, on the back of two tough years for the organic market but the news isn’t all bad. Indeed there are areas of success to be reported – box schemes and independent specialist retailer like Planet Organic are showing strong, often double-digit, growth. However 71% of organic sales still come through the supermarkets who saw an overall decline of 5% in the past year; Finn expressed the opinion that there has been little marketing activity and investment in retailer-brands.

Brands have done better – an overall 2.5% decline compared to 9.5% decline in retailer-brands – and many have seen growth in spite of difficult trading conditions. Consumer confidence in the reasons to buy remains firm but ‘organic’s too expensive’ remains a strong perception that’s slowing sales.

Looking at the global market, the UK looks to be lagging behind. Organic sales continue to grow strongly elsewhere, with 7.7% growth in the USA, 40% growth in Brazil. In Europe, the French market grew by over 10% where government policy is strongly endorsing organic and sustainable food through a firm action plan. Government policy in other countries is driving change – the city of Gothenburg will source 100% organic ingredients for public procurement by the end of the year.

Organic needs innovation, supportive government policy leading to firm action plans and strong communications.

Graham is Communications Director at Yeo Valley Organic and Vice Chair of the Soil Association Council.

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