Organic meat, poultry and fish are on the up

Sales of organic meat, poultry and fish increased by 2.2% in 2013, as the Soil Association announced the first growth in the total organic market for four years.

In its 2014 Organic Market Report, the Soil Association said the overall sector had seen growth of 2.8% in 2013, with the market now worth £1.79bn.

Independent retailers led much of this growth, with an increase in sales of 6.9%, while supermarkets have seen growth of 1.2% overall.

Rob Sexton, chief executive, Soil Association Certification, said: “To see the organic market showing such strong signs of growth, particularly when grocery sales as a whole are slowing, indicates just how much potential there is in the organic sector.

“In addition, research has shown that organic shoppers expect to buy more organic products this year than last, so we have reason to be positive about the outlook for organic in 2014 and beyond.”

Roger Kerr, chief executive, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), which certifies the majority of organic eggs and poultry in the UK, told “There is definite upward movement in demand for organic products, judging by the activity of the businesses we inspect and certify. This latest Market Report helps to confirm that and reinforces data published only yesterday by Kantar Worldpanel.”

He added: “It’s fair to say that an improvement in the market is very welcome, because many organic producers have had a hard few years as shoppers tightened their belts and input costs spiralled upwards.

“Pork and poultry producers took a particular hit as their part of the organic sector contracted in the last three or four years. Through conversations with key sector players, we now confidently expect accelerating growth in the short to medium term, and organic producers and processors need to be looking at how they can gear up to capitalise on this, given that organics can have longer production lead times than non-organic.”

However despite the growing demand for organic, figures from Defra reveal that producer and livestock numbers, as well as the land area given over to organic, decreased in the previous year to December 2012.

Sexton added: “2013 has seen a decline in the amount of agricultural land in the UK that is organic and we know that many farmers are concerned about the profitability of organic. We have strong evidence to show that organic farming systems are at least as profitable as non-organic and we know that demand for organic is increasing amongst consumers.”

According to a YouGov survey, the top reason for choosing organic was that it contained fewer chemicals and pesticides (37%).

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