Sales of organic produce in the United Kingdom increased by 30% in 2005 to almost £1.6bn, an average weekly gain of £7m, according to a recent report by the Soil Association.

For comparison, the current annual growth for all UK food and drink sales is around 3%.

Released last Friday (7 July), the Organic Market Report 2006 reveals the biggest increase in sales to be in organic meat and poultry.

In 2005 the farm gate value of organic meat and poultry was an estimated £129m, a 59% increase on 2004.

For example, roughly 8.9m organic table birds were slaughtered in 2005, an increase of 55% on the previous year.

For comparison, Tesco uses 4.6m chickens each week.

The report also detailed the amount of land currently in fully organic production and land in conversion to organic.

Although the amount of land classified as organic rose by 14% across the UK, the majority of this increase was land “in conversion”.

For instance, the actual amount of organic land in England, which accounts for 47% of the UK’s organic area, increased by only 5% while land in conversion to organic increased by 85%.

Land in conversion rose for the first time in four years and is now 87,020ha (215,171 acres).