Soil Association Certification has released brand-new sales figures for the organic market showing the highest UK growth for over a decade.

The figures were revealed during the certifier’s virtual Organic Trade Conference 2020 during October, when 300-plus delegates from across the organic sector tuned in to hear the latest market insights and future trends via a series of online sessions featuring a range of speakers.

During the conference – entitled Organic 2020: The Time is Now – new Nielsen market data was publicized showing ‘buoyant growth’ of 9.5% over the past 12 months, including strong sales figures throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The data shows the UK market is on track to reach £2.6 billion by the end of the year, exceeding expectations originally laid out in the Organic Market 2020 report and ‘indicating that £50 million per week will have been spent on organic during 2020’.

The new Nielsen data confirms that ‘shoppers have been choosing organic during this crisis’ leading to a 9.5% increase in organic sales (to 3 October), compared with a lower 6.6% increase in non-organic food sales.

I think the sector has a lot to feel proud of – and confident about

Conference delegates heard that ‘shoppers are recognizing that buying organic plays a key role in the nation’s drive towards sustainability’, while the specific success of the Organic September campaign was highlighted by a 12.5% increase in supermarket organic sales for the four-week period of September.

Clare McDermott, business development director, Soil Association Certification, comments: “Organic has shown the vital importance of a farming system that works with nature – rather than against it – to protect and restore biodiversity, look after our soils and help to tackle the climate crisis. With consumer habits shifting and people prioritizing choices that are good for the environment and biodiversity, organic stands out for its benefits of transparency and integrity. With more people than ever understanding these connections, I think the sector has a lot to feel proud of – and confident about. The time for organic is definitely now.

“It’s also great to see this year’s joined-up Organic September campaign, with its simple message ‘nature has the answer’, has had such a strong impact, increasing organic sales across the board, including a 12.5% rise in supermarkets.”

The next ten years will be crucial

Opening day one of the conference, Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association, said: “We’re in 2020 now, the beginning of what is the most important decade that humanity has ever faced. It’s time to come together to shift the way we eat, farm and care for the natural world. Organic has a key role to play, as a solution to so many of the challenges the world is facing. If we do it well, we can reverse the loss of biodiversity, feed people healthily and reduce our impacts on the climate. That’s an extraordinary place to be in as a sector – and it’s a huge responsibility too.

“The next ten years will be crucial. A charity like the Soil Association coming together with businesses can be a real force for change. We can share and learn together. We can collaborate and make the case to governments and policy makers about the change we need to see in the world. The time for organic really is now.”

For an abridged version of the insights shared at the conference, sign up for Soil Association Certification’s newsletter here:

Image credit: Better Food via Soil Association Certification