Fresh produce has been the star performer of the organic market with sales up 7.4 per cent in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017.
New figures from the Soil Association released today (15 August) also showed that the organic market has continued to expand in the second half of 2017 with overall growth at four per cent.
Within the produce category, organic fruit sales rose by 12.6 per cent, with organic veg seeing a slight rise of 1.9 per cent. Sales growth was even higher on individual products with organic tomatoes up 13.1 per cent, organic salad up 7.9 per cent since last year, and ongoing growth in organic veg boxes.
Rising sales of organic produce is in line with heightened consumer awareness of health and wellbeing, the Soil Association said, reporting that 82 per cent of consumers now buy at least one organic item per year, up from 79.5 per cent in 2016.
Soil Association head of farming Liz Bowles said: “It’s a positive time for organics, with strong market growth and continued CAP payments helping ensure more stability for farmers. The demand for organic food is nearing an all-time high, and with ever more research showing the potential benefits of organic, the uplift in demand for organic produce comes as no surprise.
“We already know that organic fruit and veg, along with organic meat and milk, are nutritionally different from non-organic. Research for the European Parliament has recently found that organic farming can help create food systems which are good for our health, combining as many do; livestock as an integral part of organic rotations, to provide fertility for following organic crops. Organic September will build further on these great foundations.”
The figures were released alongside plans for this year’s Organic September campaign, which will include the first-ever Organic September Saturday, taking place on 16 September.
Farm shops and farmers who sell direct are being encouraged to involve consumers in the celebrations and find new organic products, talk to organic farmers and growers and learn about what organic means.
The Soil Association will also highlight producers, organic farm shops and independent retailers across the country with a local map.