Organic poultry sales see positive performance

Despite overall poultry sales experiencing mixed results, sales of the organic variety are up on last year, the Soil Association reported.

The Soil Association said sales of organic poultry rose 8.2% in 2014, in contrast to sales of non-organic chicken, which were down 3.3% on the previous year.

Overall sales of organic produce were reportedly up 4% in 2014, exceeding £1.86 million, with shoppers spending an extra £1.4m a week on organic products.

Customers seeking out “ethically sourced” and “environmentally friendly” products was one of the reasons given as to why overall organic sales have been on the up.

Finn Cottle, Soil Association trade consultant, told that when organic poultry meat was available in retailers, sales could double.

“Where the availability of organic poultry has improved on-shelf, they are seeing double-digit growth in sales. Organic chicken is available in the vast majority of Waitrose branches, and they offer a number of different cuts, including thighs, fillets, breasts, whole chicken, mini fillets, livers, wings. Sales are up across the board on all cuts,” he said.

Organic chickens raised for meat and accredited by the Soil Association must only be housed in a group of maximum 1,000 other broilers, with 10 square metres allowed for each bird. The birds must have continuous and easy daytime access, according to the association’s website.

Helen Browning, Soil Association chief executive, said: “Three years ago, commentators were writing off the organic market in the UK. Now, with a third year of steady growth, and against a falling overall food market, it’s clear that reports of organic food’s demise were premature, to say the least.

“This reinvigoration may be partly related to an improving economy, but it’s also testament to the fact that retailers and manufacturers who continued to invest in organic lines have continued to thrive. Now, even the discounters are beginning to stock organic ranges.”

However, sales of organic beef, lamb and pork all fell considerably in 2014. Supermarket sales of organic beef and lamb fell by 3.6% and 9.2% respectively as discount retailers, offering no organic products, increased their market share. This was a similar story for organic pork, which suffered a 6.8% decline. However, according to Defra, organic pig production was down 12.9% compared with 2013.

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