An EU grant worth €10.4m has been secured by the Organic Trade Board (OTB) in partnership with Organic Denmark, to support a three year campaign to promote organic food in both countries.
This is the third time the OTB has been successful in winning EU funding having previously won grants in 2010 and 2013. However, the scale of this grant is significantly greater – OTB will receive €7.2m which, when combined with match funding from 60 OTB member companies who have pledged £340,000, will give the OTB annual funding of £1.7m.
The OTB has committed to using the funding to grow retail sales of organic, increase employment in organic agriculture, and improve awareness and understanding of the benefits of organic food and drink.
“This award will enable us to triple the investment in helping grow the organic food and drink sector. The ‘Organic, Naturally Different Campaign’ succeeded in growing sales and changing attitudes to organic – many more consumers now understand its value,” says Catherine Fookes, OTB’s campaign manager. “With the increased spend we will do even more to grow the market, including collaboration with major retailers, in-store promotions, shopper marketing, and national ad campaigns.”
The partnership with Organic Denmark is expected to provide valuable knowledge and experience to inform UK campaign activity given that Denmark is a global market leader in organic penetration – half of all Danes now buy organic food every week.
In 2015 the organic sector in Denmark grew by 11% and organic sales now account for 9% of all retail food sales. Organic is aiming to reach 25% of the retail food sector and in some categories this has already been achieved.
“The organic market is in a clear growth phase in the UK. But there’s still much more we can do – we need to increase availability of organic products and that means convincing retailers that organic should be a key part of their sales strategy. That’s where our partnership with Denmark will be crucial as we share the insights and strategy they have pursued to get more organic on shelf in the UK,” says Paul Moore, CEO of OTB.
The OTB has compared consumer data and found that, despite the different stages of development in the Danish and UK organic markets, consumers in both countries have the same profile and are motivated by the same issues. The bid will therefore fund a joint campaign that will run in both countries using a common creative concept but tailored to suit each country’s market says Fookes.
“We are at the next phase of our development and this ground-breaking campaign is a key part in helping us achieve our further objectives. We are looking forward to working alongside our British counterparts and sharing our joint enthusiasm and expertise in helping maximise the opportunities available to us all from this – the largest international organic campaign,” says Henrik Hindborg, marketing director at Organic Denmark.
Previous OTB campaigns sought to raise consumer awareness of organic food and more recently to drive greater consumer engagement through the digital-only #OrganicUnboxed initiative. The campaigns sought to change consumer attitudes in three key areas: taste, health and value. “If you get these right then people will buy organic and we had fantastic results changing attitudes in these areas – all of them increased in response to our campaigns,” says Fookes.
The OTB are considering continuing with #OrganicUnboxed and will also be continuing to run the #WakeuptoOrganic campaign that supports independent retailers. Fookes confirms that the future campaign is likely to continue targeting the 25-45 year old category of consumers and probably those consumers who are already purchasing organic but not doing so regularly or across many categories.
Response from the industry has been positive. “Our recent research coupled with strong organic market growth (up 6% in the 52 weeks to 1 October 2016) shows there are huge opportunities for organic in the UK. This added boost from EU funding, secured by the OTB, will help make organic an even bigger part of retail in the UK and will help everyone right through the supply chain, not just the members of the OTB, but all Soil Association Certification licensees, farmers, processors, brands and businesses,” says Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification. “The next three years will be an exciting time for the sector,” she adds.
OTB member companies account for 70% of the UK organic market. These include retailers, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, major brands such as Doves Farm Foods and Rachel’s, as well as processors such as OMSCo and independent retailers and wholesalers.