Organic shows resilience

Posted by Isobel Drake on 9th April 2009

Figures released by the UK’s Soil Association have discovered the value of the organic market has risen by 1.7% to £2.1bn (A$4.35b) in 2008 in the UK.

Although the rise is below the rate of food inflation and represents a fall in volume, it shows that the organic market has slowed rather than collapsed.

“The proportion of shoppers telling us that they look for organic food has fallen from 24% last year to 19% this year – but this is still higher than at any time before 2008,” Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive of international food and grocery insight providers IGD, advised.

“There remains a strong core of dedicated organic shoppers maintaining complete support for organic food, and we believe this to be a dip, rather than a collapse, in the organic market,” she added. “Consumers are looking again at every option: where they buy, what they eat and how they cook. But they are not about to abandon their tastes, habits and beliefs that have been built up over the last decade or more. It is likely that volume growth will return when the economy picks up again.”

In total, ethical food shopping is holding up well to recession, according to consumer research from IGD.

According to IGD’s Shopper Trends 2009 – Food Shopping in a Recession:

* A quarter (25%) of British shoppers say they have purchased foods that support Fairtrade in the last month, almost three times more than 2006, which was only 9%
* The number buying locally produced food has almost doubled in the last three years to 27%, compared to 15% in 2006
* The number of shoppers who regard country of origin as important when purchasing food has also increased to almost a quarter (23%), compared to 16% in 2006
* Those buying foods with high animal welfare standards rose to 18% from 11% in 2006
* The proportion of shoppers who say they are buying organic food has dropped to 19% compared to 24% in 2008 – the only area of ethical food shopping that has seen a decline