UK organic market tops £2 billion

The Soil Association’s 2017 Organic Market Report launched today, revealing that the UK organic market is now in its fifth year of strong growth and worth £2.09 billion. Total sales of organic increased by 7.1% in 2016 while non-organic sales continued to decline. Organic represents around 1.5% of the total UK food and drink market.  More consumers are seeking organic – confirmed by recent research from England Marketing1 revealing 39% of shoppers buy organic food on a weekly basis. 80% of all consumers said that they have some knowledge about organic food.

Adrian Blackshaw, chair of the Organic Trade Board, said: “Traditionally the two main challenges for customers buying organic are the price and the availability. Over the past decade we have seen this improve across the industry and now the organic market is in a clear growth phase in the UK.”

Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at Soil Association Certification said; “It’s a positive time for organic as it ticks lots of boxes for consumers. Organic is extremely relevant for trends towards eating better food, knowing where your food comes from, avoiding pesticides or antibiotics and ‘free from’ diets. Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers choose organic as a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle and this will continue. Despite uncertainty around Brexit for us all, it brings lots of opportunities too – particularly for export for British organic and more product innovation.”

Supermarkets account for 69% of total sales and shoppers are also ordering more organic products online where there’s a wider range of innovative options. Jeff Hodgson from Tesco said; “The Organic market is in strong growth which is predicted to continue this year. Organic food is becoming more important to more customers as we see new customers entering the market and existing organic shoppers increasing the size of their organic basket. A proportion of this growth is driven by customers seeing organic as a healthier choice.”

Organic food is more available than ever. Many high street chains like McDonalds, Jamie’s Italian, Nando’s and Pret are including organic products on their menus. More supermarket chains are offering wider ranges of organic choices and new independent food stores are growing rapidly. Meanwhile, the cost sector is in strong growth (+19.1%) with more schools, hospitals and workplaces serving organic food.

UK sales are catching up with market growth rates around the world. The global organic food market is valued at $81billion and the UK represents around 4% of global sales.  In many countries, British organic is seen as the best that you can possibly buy - particularly in the Far East, US and Europe. Overall, nearly half (49%) of Soil Association Certification licensees are exporting products with an estimated value of exports at £250m.