According to the Soil Association’s Organic Market Report for 2017, the UK’s organic food market is now in its fifth year of strong growth, and it’s worth £2.09 billion.
As a wholesale food and drink supplier in Bury, serving our local area and the wider Lancashire region, we can see how more and more people are opting for organic, including the snacks and drinks they enjoy.
Trends in organic food
The report shows that total sales of organic food and drink increased by 7.1% in 2016 and represents close to 1.5% of the UK’s total food and drink market.
It feels like a positive time for organic, with increasing numbers of people choosing organic options, as part of a trend towards eating ‘clean’ food. Many customers want to know where their food comes from, and that it’s free from pesticides or antibiotics.
The Soil Association report highlights key trends, including a 6.1% growth in organic sales in supermarkets, and a 6.3% growth for independent retailers. Sales into the foodservice market have also increased by an impressive 19.1%.
There’s an increasing availability of organic, in places such as fast food outlets and high street chains, which has increased its visibility and both responded to, and fuelled, demand. More supermarkets are offering greater choice in organic options, and more workplaces, schools and hospitals serve organic food.
The Soil Association reports that the global organic market is valued at $81 billion, and the UK represents some 4% of global sales.
WDS are really pleased and proud to be a part of this.
What is Organic food?
As organic becomes more popular, and the word gets slipped into all sorts of descriptions, it’s worth reminding ourselves what it means.
Essentially, it refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. This includes crops and livestock – organically raised livestock cannot be given antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products.
Normal, non-organic produce is grown with synthetic or chemical fertilisers, whilst weeds and pests are controlled with chemical herbicides and pesticides. The organic equivalent uses natural fertilizers such as manure and compost, and natural weed and pest controls like birds, insects and traps.
Processed organic food uses ingredients that have been produced organically, and these ingredients must make up at least 95% of the food. Organic food production only involves a limited number of additives.
The organic movement might feel new age and recent but it actually stretches back some time, with its origins in a 1924 book by Rudolf Steiner, “Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture”, that laid the foundations for biodynamic farming.
The description “organic farming” was first used in 1940, in a book by Lord Walter Northbourne, “Look to the Land”.
Farmers, scientists and nutritionists founded the Soil Association in Britain in 1946, to study and promote organic farming.
Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring”, exposed the dangers of pesticides, as the organic movement grew.
In 1972, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (FOAM) was formed and established four principles of organic farming: health, ecology, fairness and care.
By 1991, Australia and the EU were the first prominent government organisations establish legal standards for organic produce, helping producers, retailers and consumers make clearer choices.
In the UK, there are widely respected organic standards from the Soil Association and others, established using independent certification bodies. At the same time, EU law ensures that all food and drink sold as organic meets strict standards and must be clearly labelled as such.
Now the organic food industry continues to grow, as the Soil Association’s figures show. More people are making organic choices, and more suppliers and retailers are choosing to meet this demand.
High Quality Organic Products
Retailers in the UK report that sales of organic food and drink are rising across all sectors, not just fruit and vegetables.
Organic products flying off the shelves include fish, dairy, pasta, and grocery items, as well as olive oil and cooking sauces.
While price is still a factor in people making the switch to organic, there are also signs that people are willing to pay for quality produce.
This search for quality has seen consumers explore further organic options, beyond fruit and veg, meaning they will opt for, more or less, entire meals that are now organic in origin.
All this is contributing to the continuing growth of the organic market and shows there is an opportunity for retailers and other outlets to stock more organic options across a whole range of produce, including snacks and drinks.
How Healthy is Organic Food?
Meanwhile, studies have shown there to be clear differences between organic and non-organic food.
A team of scientists at Newcastle University has discovered that organic food contains more antioxidant compounds linked to better health than found in regular food. As you might expect, organic food also has lower levels of pesticides and toxic metals.
Health benefits are not the only reason that people choose organic, though, according to the Soil Association’s research. While 55% of people surveyed choose health as a reason, and 53% cite avoiding chemical residues, 44% choose organic to help the environment and nature.
However, a significant 35% simply like the taste of organic food.
Our Organic Range
At WDS we supply a range of organic items, to suit a variety of tastes. These include a tasty Schneider Grunes beer, made from only certified organic ingredients.
With its fresh, hoppy taste, and crisp, dry finish, this alone justifies the claims for the tastiness of organic produce.
We also supply a range of Fairtrade, bottled iced teas. ChariTea comes in four delicious flavours – Red, Black and Green, and a caffeine-packed option called Mate.
All these intriguing flavours use only organic ingredients, including whole leaf teas sourced from co-operatives and plantations from around the world.
This covers all the organic bases: it tastes good, it uses natural ingredients, and it helps local agricultural economies on a global scale.
We’re currently expanding our organic range to meet increasing demand, watch out for announcements.
Get in Touch
Why not explore organic alternatives for your customers? Be a part of this dynamic, exciting, growing market.
We’re wholesale suppliers of snacks and drinks for Lancashire and the North West. Pick up the phone and call us on 0161 763 6020. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org