THE UK’s organic market achieved a 4.5 per cent growth in sales in 2019, and is now worth £2.5 billion a year, with £200m spent each month on organic food and drink in the UK.

Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report, released today, revealed 2019 to be the eighth year of growth for the market, with organic sales reaching their highest ever value.

The report shows growth across all channels for organic, including supermarkets (+2.5 per cent), home delivery and online (+11.2 per cent), foodservice (+8.3 per cent) and independent retail (+6.5 per cent), as demand for organic continues to increase across the UK.

Organic poultry and eggs enjoyed particular success in 2019 – each saw sales increase over 12 per cent despite media attention on veganism and plant-based alternatives.

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DEFRA figures show the total number of poultry farmed organically in the UK increased by ten per cent between 2017 and 2018, rising to almost 3.4 million birds, as demand from shoppers for high-welfare meat and eggs continues to increase.

Despite another positive year for organic, organic produce sales fell 2.4 per cent in 2019. Dairy also fell 0.9 per cent. The report notes that both categories were hindered by unsustainably low prices in non-organic. Despite these challenges, sales volumes remained steady.

Supermarkets’ overall share of the UK’s organic market fell one per cent to 64.6 per cent, as other channels ate into their dominance, notably online and home delivery, up 11.2 per cent. Increasing numbers of shoppers turned to the internet in 2019 to choose from the wider ranges of low-impact organic products available.

Nathan Richards, farmer of Troed y Rhiw, a 23-acre farm in Wales said: “We grow over 40 types of fruit and vegetables, selling direct to a hyper-local customer base through our box scheme and local farmers market. Despite market and Brexit uncertainty, we have seen strong growth in customer demand for organic, locally produced food with our box scheme numbers rising rapidly over the last year.”

Sophie Kirk, business development manager at Soil Association Certification, said: “2020 is a year of opportunity for organic farmers and growers. With growth happening across multiple routes to market, and public interest in sustainable farming on the rise as we exit the European Union and the Agriculture Bill goes through Parliament, there are huge opportunities for farmers looking to diversify their businesses to meet growing consumer trends for British, sustainable food and drink.

“Organic products give consumers a legal assurance that what they are buying has been produced to the highest environmental and animal-welfare standards. The remarkable success last year of organic through home delivery and foodservice, as well as categories like eggs and poultry, are proof that the demand for nature-friendly products is there, and that if farmers can meet these trends, they can have great success.”