Organic and sustainable foods receive “coronavirus boost”

29 April 2020, 10:45 AM
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a spike in demand for organic and sustainable foods, says Ecovia Intelligence, with UK-based food delivery boxes seeing an upswing in sales
Organic and sustainable foods receive “coronavirus boost”

Demand for organic and sustainable food is on the rise as the coronavirus crisis causes consumers to look to healthier options to boost their immunity, according to research firm Ecovia Intelligence.

Retailers around the world have seen a surge in sales of organic products, with the highest sales growth being reported at online retailers. In the UK, organic food delivery boxes have been popular amid the coronavirus outbreak. Abel & Cole reported a 25% increase in sales orders and has had to stop taking new customers. Riverford Organic Farmers has also reported a tide of new demand and has limited the number of new customers it will take on.

Meanwhile, “unprecedented demand” at US-based Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural food retailer, has caused the company to limit its number of online grocery customers. Nourish Organic, an Indian online retailer, said sales rose 30% in March.

Bricks and mortar shops have also benefited from the growing demand for organic products where they’ve been able to remain open. Not only have existing customers been spending more, but new shoppers are also being attracted, Ecovia Intelligence says. In France, some organic food shops have reported sales uplifts of more than 40%.

“COVID-19 is raising consumer awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health. Consumers are buying more organic and healthy foods as they look to boost their personal immunity,” the report says.

Ecovia Intelligence predicts that global organic product sales, which hit $100 billion in 2018, could surpass 150 billion within the next five years due to the way the Covid-19 outbreak is changing how consumers shop and eat.

While the growing demand is good news for retailers, the lockdown is causing issues with the global supply chain. For example, India provides Europe and North America with organic tea, herbs, spices and related ingredients, but emergency measures halted food processing and exports in March.

In spite of these pressures, demand for organic and sustainable food is set to remain strong even after consumer health fears subside, as has happened following previous food and health crises, such as the SARS outbreak.

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