The organic market continues to grow, up 6.3% in the 52 weeks to August 13 [Kantar Worldpanel], attendees to the Soil Association’s annual trade briefing in London yesterday (September 19) heard. Over 130 guests attended the event, which announced that the organic market is expected to exceed £2.2bn in sales by year end — its highest yet.
The top three sales categories, Fresh Produce, Dairy and Grocery, have driven the growth, with Grocery alone adding an enormous 39% increase in sales over the last 4 years [Nielsen Scantrack, 52 weeks to 1 July, 2017].
Ocado, the fastest growing retailer of organic with over 9% share this year, was present at the event:
“Organic at Ocado has grown by 16.2 % in the last twelve months, and long may it continue,” said Kevin Hancock, senior trading manager.
The briefing focused on the changing retail and consumer trends driving this sustained growth. Data from Kantar Worldpanel showed that while London is still the largest sales region, strong growth has been coming from across the south and south west mainly from a younger shopper and from smaller households looking for ethically driven purchases. Values and Provenance are more important than discounts and low price to these shoppers and the segment is growing. Supporting research from England Marketing showed that over 50% of shoppers are actively looking for assurance labels.
Innovation across categories including teas, nut butters, free-from products, energy bars and cereals was at the forefront of the growth in organics alongside fresh fruit which has had unprecedented growth in recent months. Increased availability of organic has widened the market with significant ranges now available online and through discounters as well as increased ranges in independents.
Speaking at the event, Dan Rusga, marketing director at Yeo Valley, the UK’s largest organic brand, said, “Consumer attitudes are changing, with the importance of quality products and traceability now at the forefront of producer, brand and retailer strategies. Organic September is a key time to put our organic stories front and centre; to share who we are with shoppers, bring awareness of organic to consumers and show retailers that they can count on sales as a result. But organic isn’t a badge. Consumers easily see through inauthenticity. Delivering products that continue to meet consumer needs and values, which match our own, gives us a unique opportunity to keep the organic market growing.”