Sales of organic produce almost doubled in value between 2000 and 2005 passing the £1bn mark for the first time and are forecast to top £2bn by 2010.

Consumer research from Mintel reveals that Britain’s organic food and drink market grew by 94% over the five year period climaxing in sales of £1.2bn.

Consequently, the number of British adults claiming never to have purchased organic produce fell from 37% in 2003 to 29% in 2005.
 
In the past organic produce was considered the preserve of the better off middle classes but the latest research shows that organic food and drink is appealing to a wider cross-section of society. 

Amongst those who have purchased organic produce in the last 12 months, there is in fact surprisingly little difference between the better off ABs and those in the middle income C1 group (see table below for a breakdown of socio-economic classes). 

This is particularly true when it comes to fresh staples such as fruit (59% for ABs vs 53% for C1), vegetables (59% vs 58%), dairy (32% vs 26%) and meat (33% vs 26%).

“Although the organics market is now reasonably mature, sales are being driven by consumer interest in healthy eating, locally sourced produce and concern for the environment and food safety,” said Julie Sloan, market analyst at Mintel.

“Despite the fact that organic products account for little more than 1% of overall food and drink sales, there is no doubt that these products have ‘joined the mainstream’.

“Indeed, organic ranges are now available from all the major multiples, and the majority of households do buy organic food, even if some are only doing so occasionally,” added Ms Sloan.

Those consumers aged 55 – 64 years are the most likely to choose organic produce compared to conventionally produced fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products.

In fact fruit and vegetables make up the largest sector of the organics market with a 37% share equating to sales of £442m this year.

Organic meat is the next most popular product, with one in four (26%) adults having bought some in the past year, a substantial increase on the 19% reported in 2001. 

In line with this, the meat and poultry sector has enjoyed the most impressive increase in value, having grown by almost 150% between 2000 and 2005.

And the prospects for the next five years are better still.  Over the next 5 years, Mintel forecasts that the organic food and drinks market will increase by 72% to reach a value of £2 billion by 2010.

This is primarily led by an ageing “baby boomer generation” with a higher level of disposable income compared to their parents. 

Between 2005 and 2009 the number of people aged between 45 and 54 is set to rise by 9% while the number of people aged 55 to 64 will rise by 6%.  Over this period, personal disposable income is expected to leap by around 40%.

 

Socio-economic group

Occupation of chief income earner

% of

population

 

 

 

A

Higher managerial, administrative or professional

3

B

Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional

20

C1

Supervisory or clerical, and junior managerial, administrative or professional

28

C2

Skilled manual workers

21

D

Semi and unskilled manual workers

18

E

All those entirely dependent on the state long term, through sickness, unemployment, old age or other reasons

10