The UK organic market grew 7.1% in 2016 to be worth £2.09 billion, according to latest figures from the Soil Association.
Data gathered in the 2017 Soil Association Organic Market Report confirm that organic sales in the UK have now grown for five consecutive years.
Good growth in 2016 was helped by a stronger performance from supermarkets, with sales up 6.1% (compared to 3.2% in 2015) – although independent retailers managed growth of 6.3%.
Foodservice also performed well with organic sales up 19.1%, thanks to increasing availability in high street chains like McDonald’s, Pret, Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian.
In non-food, the organic beauty and wellbeing sector grew by 13% to be worth £61.2 million, while Soil Association certified textile sales rose 30% to £28 million.
Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification said; “It’s a positive time for organic as it ticks lots of boxes for consumers. Organic is extremely relevant for trends towards eating better food, knowing where your food comes from, avoiding pesticides or antibiotics and ‘free from’ diets. Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers choose organic as a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle and this will continue. Despite uncertainty around Brexit for us all, it brings lots of opportunities too – particularly for export for British organic and more product innovation.”
“It’s a positive time for organic as it ticks lots of boxes for consumers. Organic is extremely relevant for trends towards eating better food”
Supermarkets accounted for 69% of total sales (as in 2015) and their customers ordered more organic products online. The Soil Association says that wider access to organic online more generally is becoming an important driver of growth, and that new retail platforms – such as Amazon Fresh and the Planet Organic shop on Ocado – are examples of innovative new options for shoppers.
The organic charity says that UK sales are catching up with market growth rates around the world. It estimates that the UK represents around 4% of global sales, which are valued at $81billion. British organic sector’s reputation for quality is helping strengthen exports too – nearly half (49%) of Soil Association Certification licensees currently export, where sales are estimated at £250m.
Jeff Hodgson from Tesco said: “The Organic market is in strong growth which is predicted to continue this year. Organic food is becoming more important to more customers as we see new customers entering the market and existing organic shoppers increasing the size of their organic basket. A proportion of this growth is driven by customers seeing organic as a healthier choice.”