Organic market suffers 6 per cent drop in sales

Sales of organic products continued to fall in 2010 as the tough economic climate pushed UK consumers towards cheaper produce.
The Soil Association’s latest Organic Market Report shows that organic sales across the UK fell by 5.9 per cent to £1.73 billion last year, while supermarkets experienced an even larger 7.7 per cent drop in sales .
Fruit saw the biggest drop of any organic category, with sales dropping by 11 per cent fall, while vegetables fell by only two per cent. Together, fruit and vegetables, which represent almost a quarter of all organic sales, declined 6.3 per cent to £402 million.
By contrast, sales of organic beef and organic baby food rose by 18 and 10.3 per cent respectively, while organic textiles saw a 7.8 per cent increase.
Sales of organic goods have now fallen for two years in row, however the report shows that the overall rate of decline has slowed considerably over the past year and suggests there are signs of a market recovery in 2011.
According to the Soil Association, both Waitrose and Marks and Spencer anticipate modest growth for 2011, while Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and the Co-operative predict level year-on-year sales of organic produce .
Roger Mortlock, deputy director of the Soil Association, said: “There is powerful evidence that consumers who care about the diverse benefits of organic will stay loyal, even during these tough economic times.”
“Given the current uncertainties in the UK and global economy, it would be rash to make any predictions for the future organic market. But the instability caused by climate change, population growth and resource depletion mean that business as usual in food and farming is not an option.”