A SINGLE MARKETING co-op for organic milk could be the key to long-term stability in the industry, Anita Masters told last week’s Nuffield Trust winter conference in Brighton.

Mrs Masters studied the organic milk market in America, where the largest producer-owned independent co-operative has increased sales of dairy products from $9m (£4.9m) in 1995 to $125m (£67.6m). There has been rapid expansion in the organic sector, although the upturn in the conventional milk price has reduced the premium. Driving the upward trend is consumer concern about milk production boosting hormones used in US herds.

But Mrs Masters, of Nunney, Frome, believes organic food producers may be putting off potential customers by prioritising environmental issues ahead of product quality.

“To encourage the next phase of growth, the organic industry must recognise that not all consumers are motivated solely by environmental concerns,” suggested Mrs Masters, who works in the organic dairy food production sector.