Organic sales defy credit crunch

The value of UK’s organic sector has increased despite a drop in organic sales, according to a report by the Soil Association.

Figures released this week (6 April) show sales have slowed in the recession, but have not collapsed as many had feared.

The Soil Association’s Organic Market Report said the organic market was worth £2.1bn last year, an increase of 1.7% on the previous year.

While the rise was below the rate of food inflation and revealed a fall in volume, it showed the organic market has slowed rather than collapsed.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said it had been a difficult period for all retail sectors, and organic sales had suffered along with the rest of the economy.

However consumers who were committed to organic products appeared to be staying loyal.

“This shows the underlying resilience of the organic market, which we believe will grow again once the economy picks up,” he said.

Sales of organic produce in 2009 had so far remained stable, he added.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of grocery experts IGD, agreed there remained a strong core of dedicated shoppers who supported organic food.

“The proportion of shoppers telling us that they look for organic food has fallen from 24% last year to 19% this year – but this is still higher than at any time before 2008,” she said.

“We believe this to be a dip, rather than a collapse, in the organic market.

“Consumers are looking again at every option: Where they buy, what they eat and how they cook.

“But they are not about to abandon their tastes, habits and beliefs that have been built up over the last decade or more. It is likely that volume growth will return when the economy picks up again.”

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