The Natural & Organic Products Europe held in London April 17-18, confirms a sector showing positive growth in the UK, as revealed by the Soil Association’s 2016 Organic Market Report, launched on 23 February 2016. The UK organic market has experienced steady growth in the last three consecutive years, 4.9% in 2015 and a value worth GBP1.95 billion.

Sales of organic goods have continued to outperform the non-organic grocery market, which decreased by 0.9% in the same period.

The Soil Association said that shoppers spent an extra GBP1.73 million on organic products in 2015. The steady rise of the organic market experienced in the UK mirrors a global trend of growth and widening interest in the organic sector.

Other key findings from the Organic Market Report 2016 were Sales of organic products in supermarkets have grown by 3.2% Organic product sales for independent retailers have increased by 7.5% Box schemes and online sales of organic products have risen by 9.1% The organic catering sector has increased by 15.2% The organic health and beauty market increased by 21.6% to GBP 54.2million More than GBP 9 million is now spent on organic food through the Soil Association Catering Mark, an increase of 28.5%
* Organic has a 1.4% share of the food and drink market.

“This year’s figures highlight a shift in consumer shopping habits, moving towards independent retailers. The independent and box scheme sectors have both benefited from these changing habits and grew by a combined 8.2% in 2015. Consumers are now spending over GBP 544 million every year through these channels,” the Soil Association said.

The sustained interest in organic is partially driven by an increase in young and socially conscious ‘millennials’ with strong social, ethical and environmental values. These consumers are increasingly choosing organic because they want to know the origins of their food and are willing to pay more for products with quality assurance standards supporting the environment, society and animal welfare.

This year’s star performer is grocery, driven by innovative brands and products such as jams and spreads (+28.1%), oils and vinegars (+17.5%), and tea (+12.8%).

Martin Sawyer, chief executive of Soil Association Certification, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for the organic sector, with the market set to break through the GBP2 billion mark in 2016 and reach levels seen before the recession. Thanks to the growth of online, it is now possible for retailers to connect consumers with the broadest choice of organic products.”

The amount of organic food used by the catering industry is making it the most buoyant sector of the organic market. Organic food within the catering sector is now worth GBP64.3 million, a success due in part to the GBP9 million spent on organic food through the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark scheme, as well as widespread use of organic milk in high street chains.