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UK organic sales down 3.7% in 2011

Sales of organic food fell 3.7% in the UK last year despite an 8.8% increase in overall global sales according to figures released by The Soil Association.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

UK organic sales down 3.7% in 2011

Sales of organic food fell 3.7% in the UK last year despite an 8.8% increase in overall global sales according to figures released by The Soil Association.

The organisation's 2012 Organic Market Report found that the main cause of the UK decline was a 5% drop in multiple retail sales, which accounted for 71.4% of organic food sales. It also found that UK sales were affected by a reduction of choice, lack of communication about the reasons to buy organic products and a lack of investment in own-label organic ranges.

In contrast, strong growth continued in all other major European organic markets and in the US, the world’s leading organic market. Sales of organic products in China have quadrupled in the last five years, and Brazil is reporting an annual growth rate of 40%. Market analysts predict that organic sales in Asia will grow by 20% a year over the next three years.

Despite the tough environment in th UK, The Soil Association highlighted a number of success stories including sales of organic baby food up 6.6%, lamb up 16%, and poultry up 5.8%. The Soil Association said the sector had benefited from innovation by retailers with sales through box schemes, home delivery and mail order up by 7.2% to £167 million. This meant that independent retail sales increased their share of the organic market to 28.6%.

Soil Association CEO Helen Browning said: "Although the organic market is down by 3.7% overall in the UK, some interesting trends and patterns are emerging, which may reflect a cultural shift in some of our shopping habits."

Browning continued: "The growth of businesses such as Ocado, for example with its organic sales up 5.5%, show the continued trend for doorstep delivery and online sales. There are exciting plans afoot for several major businesses to expand their organic offer in this area."

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