The organic market has continued to grow in the first half of 2017, driven significantly by increased consumer interest in nutrition and a desire for traceability in food sourcing. Some of the biggest areas of growth include fruit (+12.6%), tomatoes (+13.1%) and salad (+7.9%) . Bananas, meanwhile, have had the highest growth of any food and drink product in the organic sector with sales soaring by 25.5% . Sustaining the steady growth seen over the past five years, total sales of organic grew by 4.1% in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017 .
With strong consumer interest in fresh, healthy, and seasonal foods driving growth, retail promotions and brand participation in this year’s Organic September will provide a further and phenomenal boost to the organic sector.
The continued growth is driven widely by younger consumers, with the 24 – 44 age group being the most committed to buying organic . Shoppers are increasingly seeking out healthy food, as reflected in booming sales of organic produce (up 7.4% ). The rise in organic sales is in line with heightened consumer awareness and interest in wellbeing, with more health-conscious consumers making nutritious food choices including smoothies, salads, fresh dairy and cereals, as well as the desire to try new products.
Kate Gibbs, Brand Manager at Waitrose says: “Organic fruit is very popular at Waitrose, with blueberries being one of our top selling organic products, appealing to those who are searching out healthy options. We are also seeing significant increases in sales of other fruits such as raspberries and apricots. We also find fish and other lean proteins to be examples of the growth in organic within the segment of consumers who are focused on health and wellbeing.”
The momentum around healthier food has in turn fuelled the growth of new and innovative products in the organic sector, including non-dairy milks, nutty butters and confectionary. Brands like Rebel Kitchen and Plenish shine the spotlight on non-dairy mylks, Clearspring offer healthy snacks featuring traditional Japanese and Nordic recipes, and even a treat like chocolate is kept rooted to simple, transparent recipes by one of the UK’s most ethical companies , The Raw Chocolate Company.
Combined innovation and market demand mean that organic products are now available in over 8,000 outlets including all major retailers as well as online. Today, it’s normal to find organic on shop shelves and current figures show that 82% of UK shoppers buy at least one organic item per year, up from 79.5% in 2016 .
Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at the Soil Association says: “Organic product innovation is demonstrating a wide appeal for consumers prioritising food quality, taste, and wellbeing simultaneously. With such a wide variety of products to choose from, together with nation-wide events and organic brand promotions, there has never been a better time to try organic than Organic September.”
Key growth areas of organic in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017 include :
- Spreads and preserves, including nut butters +21%
- Fruit +12.6%; with tomatoes up by 13.1% and bananas marking the highest growth of any food and drink product in the organic sector with sales soaring by over 25.5%
- Confectionary and soft drinks +8.3%
- Salad +7.9%
- Cereals +6.5%
- Dairy, the largest market sector for organic +1.25% overall; with butter growing by 9.2% and milk by 2.9%
The demand for organic food nearing an all-time high comes as no surprise as the research showing the benefits of organic grows ever stronger, complementing growing public interest in health and wellbeing. Consumers already know that organic fruit, veg, meat and milk are nutritionally different from non-organic, with organic fruit and vegetables up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants. Meanwhile, research for the European Parliament recently found that organic food can reduce risk of developing allergies and adult obesity .
5 reasons for shoppers to #chooseorganic this September:
- Fewer pesticides
- No artificial colours & preservatives
- Always free range
- No routine use of antibiotics
- No GM ingredients
The Soil Association will host a trade briefing on Tuesday, 19 September, to reveal the organic market’s growth figures between March and September 2017. The event will highlight the changing face of organic retail in the UK, including presentations from some of the best performing and most innovative organic brands in the UK.
Nielsen data for 52 weeks to 1 July 2017.
HPI for Organic Trade Board, 2017.
Ethical Consumer Magazine, August 2017.
Kantar World Panel, 2017.
Newcastle University, British Journal of Nutrition, 2014.
European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016.