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Optimism in the UK organic market

Two recent events give rise for optimism in relation to the UK organic market. The Soil Association Market report was launched on the 24 Feb 2015 and the Organic Trade Board (OTB) held a trade briefing under the motto of 'prosper and grow with organic' on the 4 March 2015.

The headline figures from the Soil Association's recently released Organic Market Report 2015 suggest that in 2014 the organic market in the UK grew by 4% to an estimated value of £1.86 billion.

70% of organic sales are through multiple retailers, with growth of 2.2% against a trend of flat lining or falling sales in conventional food retail. Growth was stronger for sales outside supermarket (8.7%) to £558.6 million or 30% of the organic market. Dairy remains the largest organic product category in multiple retail sales by value (28%) with above average growth and increased sales are also reported for eggs, poultry and fresh fruit. In contrast sales by value fell for organic vegetables (-2%) and salads (-1.6 %) and for red meat and sausages (-6.2%).

The trade briefing from the Organic Trade Board focussed on the opportunities that arise in this growing market. Thor Sorenson, Chief Operating Officer of Netto (a discounter that accounts now for about 20% of organic sales in Denmark) saw organic is simply a good business for Netto. The company believes that organic food should be affordable and available for all and embracing organic has really helped it to grow sales. New research from Wendy Dunn into organic consumers revealed that over a third (roughly 9.3 million) of British consumers consciously buy organic food on a monthly basis. It appears that consumer demand exists in the UK at a similar level to Denmark, but the success of organic in Denmark is due to Danish retailers taking action to push sales and work with suppliers to create a profitable supply chain.

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