The number of organic producers in Great Britain grew in 2018, despite a further drop in organic land area according to new figures.
The number of organic farmers grew two per cent, up to 3,544, according to Defra statistics, while organic processors declined to 2,569. Of the organic producers, the bulk are organic crops at 3,244 growers across the UK.
Most organic crops are cereals, at around 40,000 acres, while vegetables come second at around 10,000 hectares in Britain, both of which have declined since the late 2000s, mirroring a general fall in organically farmed land since 2008.
The Organic Research Centre suggested the fall in organic land use indicated a shift from producers away from larger farms.
Roger Kerr, chief executive of Organic Farmers and Growers says the new statistics reflect confidence in the sector. “Continued growth of consumer demand for high-welfare and environmentally friendly produce has seen organic sales increase steadily in the last seven years, which has in turn triggered an increase in organic farm conversions,” Kerr said.
“Organic farming also continues on its positive trajectory on a global scale, with organic land area and producer numbers at an all-time high. Organic land world-wide is growing by 20% annually, and producer numbers are increasing by 5% year-on-year, currently sitting at 2.9m.
“Our producers are achieving good economic returns, even in the current economic and political uncertainty facing the agricultural industry. But with increased regulation of agro-chemicals and potential increases in currency volatility affecting the price of inputs and outputs, many businesses are looking to reduce risk. And with policy signals from Government, farmers are looking at their options, including organic.”