The market saw its fifth year of consecutive growth, reaching pre-recession levels of sales. Organic food and drink accounted for 1.5% of total sales in the UK, according to The Soil Association’s 2017 organic market report.
Dairy held the biggest market share at 29%, but grew just 2.2% since last year. Fresh produce grew 10.3%, quickly gaining the second largest share at 23.5%.
Organic chilled foods saw the most growth last year, up 16% with a 2.9% market share. Frozen food’s market share fell the most, dropping 6.9% to 0.7%.
Supermarket sales grew 6.1% to £1.4bn, fuelled by a growing trend of consumers choosing organic food and drink because they thought it was healthier. Supermarkets accounted for 69% of total sales.
Forecast to grow
Tesco’s head of brand Jeff Hodgson said the organic market was forecast to grow this year. Home delivery sales grew 10.5% to £260.8M.
“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,” said Hodgson.
“A proportion of this growth is driven by customers seeing organic as a healthier choice.”
Soil Association Certification Business development director Clare McDermott said consumers were choosing organic food and drink as a shortcut to a “healthy lifestyle” and this was set to continue.
“Organic is extremely relevant for trends towards eating better food, knowing where your food comes from, avoiding pesticides or antibiotics and free-from diets,” she added.
‘Trends towards eating better foods
Brexit was an opportunity for organic food producers to boost exports, especially in the Far East and the US, she said.
Foodservice saw the largest amount of sales growth, rising 19.1% to £76.6M.
UK organic exports represent 4% of global sales. Nearly half (49%) of Soil Association Certification licensees export their products, with a value of £250M.
British organic was seen as the “best that you can possibly buy”, according to the organisation.
Meanwhile, Tesco’s total organic food sales increased 15% over the past year, boosted by sales of organic fish and dairy products.