Health and wellness interest drives growth in organic sales 

New data gathered by the Soil Association shows that the organic market has continued to grow in the first half of 2017, driven significantly by increased consumer interest in nutrition and a desire for traceability in food sourcing.

Sustaining the steady growth seen over the past five years, total sales of organic grew by 4.1% in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017. With strong consumer interest in fresh, healthy, and seasonal foods driving growth, retail promotions and brand participation in this year’s Organic September will provide a further and phenomenal boost to the organic sector.

This growth is driven widely by younger consumers, with the 24 – 44 age group being the most committed to buying organic. Shoppers are increasingly seeking out healthy food, as reflected in booming sales of organic produce (up 7.4% [1]). The rise in organic sales is in line with heightened consumer awareness and interest in wellbeing, with more health-conscious consumers making nutritious food choices including smoothies, salads, fresh dairy and cereals, as well as the desire to try new products.

Kate Gibbs, brand manager at Waitrose says: “Organic fruit is very popular at Waitrose, with blueberries being one of our top selling organic products, appealing to those who are searching out healthy options. We are also seeing significant increases in sales of other fruits such as raspberries and apricots. We also find fish and other lean proteins to be examples of the growth in organic within the segment of consumers who are focused on health and wellbeing.”

The momentum around healthier food has in turn fuelled the growth of new and innovative products in the organic sector, including non-dairy milks, nutty butters and confectionary. The Soil Association says that it’s increasingly normal to find organic on shop shelves, with current figures showing that 82% of UK shoppers buy at least one organic item per year, up from 79.5% in 2016.

Clare McDermott, business development director at the Soil Association says: “Organic product innovation is demonstrating a wide appeal for consumers prioritising food quality, taste, and wellbeing simultaneously. With such a wide variety of products to choose from, together with nation-wide events and organic brand promotions, there has never been a better time to try organic than Organic September.”

Key growth areas of organic in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2017 include [1]:

• Spreads and preserves, including nut butters +21%

• Fruit +12.6%; with tomatoes up by 13.1% and bananas marking the highest growth of any food and drink product in the organic sector with sales soaring by over 25.5%

•  Confectionary and soft drinks +8.3%

•  Salad +7.9%

• Cereals +6.5%

•  Dairy, the largest market sector for organic +1.25% overall; with butter growing by 9.2% and milk by 2.9%