Supermarkets are losing their grip on the organics market, figures from the Soil Association’s latest annual report show.

With total organic sales growing by £2.3m each week, the multiple retailers saw their share of the market slip from 81% to 75% during 2004.

The whole market is now worth more than £1.2bn a year, 11% more than in 2003. At least £300m of that total is channelled through farm shops, farmers’ market and box schemes.

This part of the sector saw sales mushroom by 33% this year, while independent shops increased their organic sales by 43%.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said: “This report shows that the popularity of organic food is growing steadily and the organic market has a bright future.

“Increasing numbers of people are eager to buy local to obtain the freshest organic food possible and to cut down on the environmental pollution caused by ‘food miles’, which is good news for small local producers.”

* For full story see Farmers Weekly magazine, out on Friday, 18 November.