8 March 2002

Organic market needs cohesion

ORGANIC livestock marketing in the UK needs professional handling with detailed forecasts of stock coming forward, more promotional activity and less fragmentation, the Organic Livestock Marketing Co-ops annual meeting was told this week.

Adrian Blyth, of processor Lloyd Maunder, said: "The key to the future is long-term planning and better communication of numbers in the pipeline.

"The more fragmented the industry gets, with little groups setting up all over the country, the more difficult it will be to balance supply and demand.

"It is that balance which always governs price. Supermar-kets expect a long-term price fall, but they realise producers need a fair price. As production increases we will need to promote harder."

He admitted his company struggled to find enough lambs last year. This year, unaware of extra production, the company booked some from New Zealand. Another processor pointed out that Marks & Spencer imported New Zealand organic lamb because it preferred its quality to that of UK hoggetts.

Finding organic outlets for lower value parts could become more difficult as supplies increased, suggested Mr Blyth.

It helped if producers had farm assurance as well as an organic certificate. Some supermarkets did not recognise organic certification as farm assurance, so would not allow organic-only produce to be used in processed foods.

Re-elected OLMC chairman Simon Tomlinson described as "a remarkable achievement" the turning round of the co-ops finances from two years of losing over £11,000/year to a trading profit of £48,000 for the year ending Oct 31, 2001. &#42