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Decline in sales of organic products has slowed

The Soil Association’s latest organic market report reveals that sales of organic products fell 5.9% to £1.73 billion in 2010. However, the rate of decline slowed significantly throughout the year.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Decline in sales of organic products has slowed

The association says the outlook for 2011 is “cautiously optimistic”.

Despite fragile consumer confidence in the wider economy, the report shows positive signs of resilience and recovery for the organic sector overall. The biggest success stories were sales of organic beef, up 18%, organic baby food, up 10.3%, and organic textiles, up 7.8%.

The report found that UK shoppers spend more than £33 million a week on all things organic, and that 86% of households now buy organic products. Dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables are the most popular categories, accounting for 30.5% and 23.2% of sales respectively.

Although sales through multiple retailers fell by 7.7%, to £1.25 billion, the report said that Waitrose and Marks & Spencer anticipate modest growth for 2011, while Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-operative predict level sales year on year. Multiple retail accounted for 72.3% of the organic market in 2010.

Further key findings in the report include:

- On average consumers bought organic products 15 times in 2010, compared to 16 times the previous year.
- Sales of a wide range of products started growing again, including butter, yoghurt, beer and cider, herbs and spices, pulses and packet soups.
- Sales through independent retailers and catering accounted for the remaining 27.7% of the market, falling by 0.75% to £480 million.
- Box scheme and mail-order sales grew by 1% in 2010 to £156 million – an encouraging result in tough trading conditions.
- Organic products continue to attract shoppers from across the social spectrum. Those in the more disadvantaged socio-economic groups account for a third of spending overall.

Roger Mortlock, Soil Association deputy director, said: “There is powerful evidence that consumers who care about the diverse benefits of organic will stay loyal, even during these tough economic times.”

 

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