Organic sector booms in the UK as online sales increase by a third
A new report by the Soil Association Certification, which verifies organic products sold in the UK, has revealed online orders and home delivery of organic products increased by more than a third.
The Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report 2021 has revealed the UK’s organic market is now worth £2.79 billion, after a 12.6 percent growth in sales in 2020. The report claims the market has now reached its highest growth rate in 15 years, outperforming the non-organic sector. During 2020 more than £50m per week was spent on organic food and drink.
“The unprecedented crisis of 2020 has brought immense challenges across the entire food supply chain – not least for organic businesses,” said Finn Cottle, Trade Consultant, Soil Association Certification.
“So, it’s significant that in times of crisis, people are turning to organic products for the assurance of transparency, integrity and quality they provide. Organic is now rightfully recognised as the cornerstone of a resilient food and farming system and a vital part of the solution to the climate, nature and health crises.
“With people spending more time at home preparing and planning meals, many shoppers are also appreciating the incredible range of organic options that are available online, with stand-out growth of 36.2 percent in this channel.
“With the organic market growing faster than ever and expected to reach £2.9 billion by the end of 2021, there is a huge opportunity for organic businesses to innovate and continue growing the market.”
The report has also revealed growth in organic via online and home delivery to the tune of 36.2 percent. With almost one in four organic products purchased online in 2020, the report states that the organic online and home delivery channel reached close to £500M, surpassing independent retailer sales for the first time.
Increased interest in online shopping and box schemes both for ease and choice during the pandemic has driven up customer numbers, orders and sales for many operators in what has been a mixed year for food and drink retailer around the world.
“Riverford was already experiencing strong growth early in 2020, before COVID-19, driven by a desire for more organic and plant-based eating,” said Rob Haward, Managing Director of organic veg box company, Riverford.
“In the face of the surge in demand we experienced during the pandemic we reduced our range back to veg boxes to meet our customers’ needs and limit our sales to new customers. We are now building back up to a narrower more veg-focused range.
“Even with these measures in place, our sales increased by more than 40 percent compared to the prior year, and sales are remaining at these high levels as the continuing restrictions on people’s lives drives strong demand for home delivery of fresh organic food.”
The report shows a growth in organic supermarket sales of 12.5 percent, but independent retailers faced mixed fortunes. Despite many city centre stores closing, high street and community stores experienced huge increases, with citizens choosing to shop locally. Overall, this amounted to a 0.9 percent rise in the organic market through independent retail.