British boom in turnover from organic food

British boom in turnover from organic food

Sales of organic food are booming, with a new survey from the UK Soil Association showing that one third of British people have purchased some organic products within the last three months. The trend towards buying organic produce and meat, initially a widespread response to concerns over BSE and genetically modified (GM) crops, shows little sign of diminishing, despite the price differential.

Of the 1 950 people questioned by MORI, more than half said they believed organic food was healthier, while nearly half thought it was tastier. Consumers regard organics as being free from pesticides, chemicals and additives and better for the environment and livestock. The survey showed that most consumers bought organic food from supermarket majors Tesco or Sainsbury, and were more likely to be women, from higher social classes.


Organic food sales in Britain have doubled over the past two years to 390 million [pounds sterling] (??604m) and are expected to reach 1bn [pounds sterling] by 2001-2. A massive 70% of Britain’s organic requirements are currently imported and demand is growing faster than domestic production. This has led to increased demands for extra government investment in the organic farming sector, with the Soil Association challenging the British government to set a target of achieving 30% organic production by 2010. Present conversion grants have been exhausted, with no new funding available for 18 months.

By April 1999 there were over 240 000 hectares of organic and inconversion land in Britain, representing 1.3% of the total agricultural area. Organic output rose by 25% to top 50m [pounds sterling] between April 1998 and April 1999, with the number of domestic producers estimated at over 1 500. Registered organic processors have increased to 800 over the same period, supplying products worth 300m [pounds sterling] to the retail sector.


Concern about the young also means that one fifth of all babyfoods now sold in Britain are organic, despite a price premium of up to 20% extra. It has been estimated by leading producer Baby Organix that one third of all infants are fed some organic food in the first year of their lives. Baby Organix has seen its sales rise by 49% in 1998 alone, selling some seven million jars of food.

The company plans to spend around 500 000 [pounds sterling] on educational marketing, promotion and advertising this year and now has 57 products in its range. Its largest customers are Tesco, Sainsbury, Boots, Safeway, Asda and Waitrose. Baby Organix also supplies outlets such as Beefeater, TGI Fridays and Legoland restaurants. Its closest competitor in the British market is Hipp of Germany.

“The Organic Food and Farming Report 1999,” published by the Soil Association, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6BY. Price UK55 [pounds sterling]. Tel: + 44 117 914 2446

COPYRIGHT 1999 Agra Europe Ltd.

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