22 January 2001
Iceland ‘unfair’ to blame organics

By FWi staff

ORGANIC regulators insist shoppers are not abandoning their produce, despite a supermarket blaming falling sales on its bold switch to organics.

Iceland Group has reported sales for the second half of 2000 were down 0.5%, with Iceland Foods recording a 1.5% drop.

This was partly explained by a high-profile move to organic produce last June, which failed to match the companys expectations.

But the Soil Association, which regulates and promotes organic farming, said it was unfair to blame organics as other retailers are reporting growing sales.

A spokeswoman questioned whether Iceland had canvassed its customers before introducing complete ranges of organic goods.

She suggested shoppers at the budget store may be more attracted by value-for-money prices than “green” considerations.

“The organic bubble has not burst,” insisted the spokeswoman.

“But you cant force people to buy it if they dont want it. Iceland wanted to change its customers and maybe they werent ready for it.”

Iceland had pledged to sell organic ranges at average prices and was reported to have bought 40% of global organic crops to make the 8 million switch.

But rivals dismissed the plan as “a gimmick”, claiming consumers wanted fresh not frozen organic produce.

Now Iceland admits that “the positioning of organic lines is being reviewed to ensure that the food more closely aligns with consumer demand”.