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Organic market continues to grow

Soil Association reports growth in organic sector, crediting young and socially-conscious 'millennials'

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 03, 2016 | Catering & hospitality

The Soil Association’s 2016 Organic Market Report reveals that the organic market continued to experience a steady growth rate of 4.9 percent in 2015. This is the third year of consecutive growth for the UK organic sector. Organic sales have also continued to outperform the non-organic grocery market, which decreased by 0.9 percent in the same period.

Overall, shoppers spent an extra £1.73 million a week on organic products in 2015 and a total of £1.95 billion on organic products across the year. While sales of organic products in supermarkets rose by 3.2 percent, those for independent retailers (7.5 percent) and box schemes and online sales (9.1 percent) rose more markedly.

According to The Soil Association, the sustained interest in organic is partially driven by an increase in young and socially conscious ‘millennials’ with strong social, ethical and environmental values. These consumers are increasingly choosing organic because they want to know the origins of their food and are willing to pay more for products with quality assurance standards supporting the environment, society and animal welfare.

Martin Sawyer, chief executive of Soil Association certification, says: “This is a hugely exciting time for the organic sector, with the market set to break through the £2 billion mark in 2016 and reach levels seen before the recession. Thanks to the growth of online, it is now possible for retailers to connect consumers with the broadest choice of organic products.”

The amount of organic food used by the catering sector also grew in 2015 – by 15.2% – making it the most buoyant sector of the organic market. Organic food within the catering sector is now worth £64.3 million which, The Soil Association says, is at least partly due to the £9 million spent on its Food for Life Catering Mark scheme as well as the widespread use of organic milk in high-street chains.

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