14 June 2002

Organic survival is in good marketing

WITH an anticipated four-fold increase in the number of organic lambs marketed this year, premium prices will disappear and organic producers will struggle to survive without successful marketing, says Martin Hole.

He suggests that unless organic producers aim at niche markets they will be unable to compete in the next few years. "We managed to market 10% of our lambs direct to consumers last year and hope to increase the proportion this year. We are involved with a vegetable box scheme through a share farming agreement and will use this to market more lambs directly."

The remainder of Mr Holes lambs last year went to Chitty Meats of Guildford and were supplied to produce organic baby food or were sold through a leading supermarket chain. "We are hoping that there may be an export trade developed for organic lambs soon, but this may not be an immediate solution."

Mr Hole is also involved with the Sussex Producer Group, an organisation which is aiming to promote local produce and set up marketing schemes for meat and vegetables from the county. The scheme is only at the discussion stage at the moment, but hopes are that it will be able to achieve increased returns and reduce food miles.

"We need to make consumers appreciate the value of buying locally produced food and the benefits this gives to local economies."

As a sideline, Mr Hole runs bird safaris on the farm, charging £30/head for a day-long tour. "People are amazed that such a wide variety of birdlife is available on their doorstep, many would normally travel to areas such as the west coast of Scotland to see birds."

The safaris are not a major enterprise, but by running six to eight a year Mr Hole is able to promote the farm and its produce to a local audience.