The Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2020 highlights that the UK organic market continues to grow, year on year, with sales increasing by 4.5% in 2019. That means that £200 million is spent on organic products in the UK every month.
During 2019 Organic in the UK bucked the Brexit uncertainty and low consumer confidence. with Nielsen data showing that organic sales growth was more than double that of non-organic.
Core organic categories have had a steady year as they have had to compete with unsustainably low prices on non-organic equivalents. For example, Organic produce and dairy have competed with promotions and lower shelf prices, but sales volume still held up.
The online market built its strength, increasing sales by an impressive 11.2%. This makes the UK the third largest online buyer of organic in the world, according to the global ecommerce market ranking report from eShopWorld. The increase has largely been driven by Ocado, sales of which have risen by 12%. The online retailer’s partnership with M&S in September 2020 offers more opportunity for organic businesses through this channel.
Successful box schemes are also driving growth in this market. Indeed, online sales for organic through this mechanic are well established, from beauty and supplements, to baby food and essentials like groceries and bottled milk. Home delivery retailers such as Milk & More, for example, added significantly to their ranges during 2019. Investment in new larger independent stores is helping to increase the availability of organic. In London in 2019, Planet Organic opened a new store in Queen’s Park and As Nature Intended relaunched one in Balham. Other new stores are opening across the UK and traditional health stores and delis are adding to their ranges, according to wholesalers.
A huge 82% of independent shops surveyed by the Soil Association were focusing on zero waste in their stores. Almost a quarter of the amount the UK spends on organic in foodservice is through the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme. Now, £23.2 million is spent on organic through this scheme, up from £19.5 million in 2018. There’s been an 8.3% rise in sales across foodservice, an exciting sector.
The global organic market continues to grow, reaching 92 billion euros with almost 3 million producers worldwide in 2017. The UK is the ninth largest organic market in the world, dropping from seventh place.
The most popular organic items in the UK shopper’s basket are still milk (5.5%), tea (8%), carrots (14%), bananas (9.8%) and yoghurts (7.8%). These are the highest penetration categories for organic. Organic meets the demand for plant-based diets. Research from Kantar shows that in-home plant-based meals have increased by nearly a quarter (23%) since 2015. A significant number of organic brands are also plant-based. They are benefiting from the extra exposure with increased sales in supermarkets. Conversely, red meat sales through some supermarkets are struggling, yet we predict that better quality meat sales through other channels are benefiting.