UK producers are missing out on the chance offered by organic production and need more government support, say researchers at Reading University.

In Barriers to the adoption of organic farming in the European Union, author Philip Jones concludes that farmers are failing to increase organic production to match rocketing consumer demand.

“The UK has the third largest retail market for organic produce in the world,” said Philip Jones of the Centre for Agricultural Strategy at Reading.

“Yet less than half of the produce we buy is home grown.

“Recent increases in the financial support available for organic farmers have failed to halt the continued slow down in the number of farmers coming forward for conversion to organic production.

The situation in some other EU countries is even more challenging, with reversions back to conventional agriculture increasingly common in countries like Denmark.”

Mr Jones says governments and supermarkets should try to raise public awareness of the sector through generic advertising campaigns.