Organic produce

The UK organic market grew by 5.6 per cent in 2016, but growth lags behind other European markets 

The UK organic sector could finally catch up with other European markets after winning a major EU funding application as part of a joint campaign with Denmark.

The UK’s Organic Trade Board (OTB) will share €10.4 million (£9.1m) over three years with Organic Denmark to promote the organic food and drink sector.

Managed by OTB and with the UK receiving 70 per cent of the funding, the campaign will hope to build on the success of organics in Scandinavia, where sales are a significant percentage of overall grocery. It will focus on growing retail sales, increasing employment in organic agriculture and raising awareness of the benefits of organic food and drink.

In the UK, the organic market grew by 5.6 per cent in 2016, but growth still lags behind other countries. Denmark’s organic sector was up 18 per cent in the second half of 2016 and represented for 10 per cent of all retail sales.

Across other European countries, average growth in organic sales is nine per cent year on year, and the UK is half the size of the French market and one third that of Germany.

OTB chairman Adrian Blackshaw said: “The aim of the campaign, estimated to be the largest international organic campaign, is to grow the organic sector and increase total annual spend on organic. Given the worldwide growth in organics, we are excited at the export potential for UK producers and brand owners.”

The campaign has been match funded by 60 OTB members, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and various independent retailers and wholesalers, who have contributed £340,000. The total annual fund will be £1.7m a year.

Henrik Hindborg, marketing director at Organic Denmark: 'Denmark has become the world’s leading organic nation, with organic food sales representing 10 per cent of all food sales in 2016, moving organic from niche to mainstream.

“We have had 10 years of consistent growth, with half of all Danes now buying organic food every week. This has been achieved through a combination of effective organic policies and close co-operation with Danish retailers. We are looking forward to working alongside our British counterparts and sharing our joint enthusiasm and expertise.”

Globally, there is growing consumer demand for organic food, with significant growth opportunities for export. In 2014, the global market for organic food was $80 billion, with the US as the largest single market, and China as the fourth largest market with a growth rate of 25 per cent.