The Soil Association’s annual Organic Market Report released on March 13 reveals that the organic sector has seen growth of 2.8% in 2013; the first time it has seen annual growth since 2008.

Overall organic sales are growing slightly ahead of total grocery sales for 2013, finishing the year at around +2.1%. The report shows that the UK organic market is now worth £1.79billion. Brands that carry the Soil Association logo achieved growth of more than 5%. For the first four weeks of the year organic sales saw growth of +2.5% – way outperforming overall grocery sales, which were down -3.2% and it seems this trend is set to continue.

The organic textiles sector had particularly a strong 2013, with growth of 10%. This comes after GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard) released revised standards for organic textiles, which now include personal care products and a ban on the use of angora wool and virgin polyester.

UK independent retailers have led the way with growth of 6.9% to almost £10million per week, indicating that more consumers are choosing to shop in smaller stores where they know they will find a wider choice of organic products.

Online sales of organic continue to grow strongly with Ocado seeing an increase in sales of 10.4%. While supermarkets have seen some growth in the past year, with overall sales up 1.2%, Sainsbury’s – the country’s biggest organic retailer with 29% market share – saw a 7% increase in sales of its own-label organic products, closely followed by Waitrose with organic sales up by 6.5%.

Also seeing growth throughout 2013 are mail-order, home-delivery and veg box schemes – up 11% on last year.

The organic food market appears to be recovering across many different sectors, with meat, fish and poultry (+2.2%), vegetables (+3.4%) and dairy (+4.4%) all seeing positive growth throughout the year.

Organic baby food continues to be a popular choice, with more than 50% of spending on baby food being organic.

Four out of five households now buy organic produce, with shoppers under 34 stating they are willing to spend the most on organic products. The main reasons for choosing organic were it contains fewer chemicals and pesticides (37%), it’s natural and unprocessed (34%) and it’s healthier for me and my family (33%).