UK organic food makers launch marketing drive

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th January 2011

UK organic food makers have launched a marketing campaign they hope will improve consumer understanding of the sector and boost sales.The three-year “Why I Love Organic” campaign, launched by sector body The Organic Trade Board (OTB), costs GBP2m (US$3.1m). Half the investment has been put up by the organic industry with the rest coming from the EU.

The campaign, which aims to “democratise” the organic sector by getting consumers to talk about why they buy organic products, is the first significant push by the sector in the UK. A primer campaign was launched last January, including some marketing on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but the new push will include press and TV advertising.

Sales of organic food in the UK came under pressure as the country’s economy fell into recession. In 2009, sales dropped almost 13%.

However, speaking to just-food today (7 January), OTB chairman Huw Bowles said organic sales in the UK “had not fallen off a cliff” and had been “fairly resilient”.

Bowles pointed to data issued by certification body The Soil Association in October that showed sales of organic food and drink to UK supermarkets rose 15.5% in September, compared to the previous four weeks. “It was a significant increase in sales,” Bowles said.

Nevertheless, Bowles pointed to Europe, where organic sales have fared better, and said the sector in some continental markets had been helped by the kind of marketing campaigns to be launched in the UK.

Bowles said the UK organic sector had not effectively communicated the benefits of organic food, while also being guilty of “preaching” to consumers and wanting shoppers to “make a conversion” to organic.

In reality, Bowles explained, most shoppers bought a handful of organic products and the aim of the campaign was to increase that amount, rather than convince them to only buy organic. Consumers bought organic food for different reasons, he added, sometimes simply because they believe it tastes better than conventional fare, rather than for environmental reasons or concerns over animal welfare.

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