Soil Association optimistic about future UK organic sales thanks to food’s sustainable credentials
Organic farming has answers for all the things that are “radically wrong” with current agricultural practices, according to Alex Cullen of the Soil Association.
Speaking at Festival of Fresh last week (21 June), Cullen argued that organic farming has a “huge role to play in feeding the world”, since it offers exactly what the public, governments and retailers are looking for in terms of environment-friendly, sustainable production.
“This is a real moment for the UK to take the opportunity,” she told FPJ editor Fred Searle in an interview at the event held near Huntingdon.
“The UK organic sector should walk tall since it has so much of what the public, government and retailers are looking for right now in terms of sustainable production – using less machinery, its benefits to the soil, and its low carbon footprint.”
Cullen said UK retail and the public sector should take lessons from Europe and Asia, where public sector procurement favours organic produce, and where supermarkets like Carrefour limit their premium margins to make organic food more accessible to the wider market.
However, Cullen conceded that winning over UK consumer “hearts and minds” and persuading them to buy organic in the current economic climate was a “difficult challenge”.
Searle pointed out that organic produce has suffered a double-digit volume sales decline in the past year, suggesting that organics may be viewed by many shoppers as a luxury item that they choose to forgo when their budgets are tighter.
Nevertheless, Cullen argued, “Stella Artois has built a fantastic brand on being ‘reassuringly expensive’, so why can’t we?”