Shining a spotlight on independents for Organic September

10 September 2021, 09:09 AM
  • With the organic market growing, indie retailers have the opportunity to raise awareness with their customers
Shining a spotlight on independents for Organic September

A month-long celebration of the organic industry is back with a bang for 2021, having achieved record engagement from brands and retailers. The Organic September event, a collaboration between the Soil Association Certification and the Organic Trade Board, has in excess of 200 brands, 300 independent retailers and three major national retailers committed to engaging in this year’s campaign.

It comes as the organic market has reached a record value of £2.79 billion during the pandemic, rising by 12.5% in 2020 – significantly higher than the non-organic market, which grew by 8.9%.

“We know from organic sales data throughout 2020 and early 2021 that people are looking for certified organic logos when shopping, and we believe that’s because it is a quick and easy way to be sure that what you are buying has been produced to a standard you can trust – and in ways that work with nature and not against it,” says Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification.

Growing taste for organic

The data shows that consumers are sticking to their lockdown organic choices amid growing demand for healthier and more sustainable food options. Since some normality has returned to the industry, growth has only dropped back to 9.4%, according to data from NielsenIQ Scantrack, while non-organic sales have fallen back to 5.6% growth.

“We have seen so much growth in public consciousness around issues relating to the planet, wildlife and farm animals and we are passionate about the role organic can play in providing a positive choice,” says Harriet O’Regan, marketing director at the Organic Trade Board. 

Food ingredients importer EHL Ingredients has reported that organic alternative flours, global herbs and spice blends and seasonings for vegan foods are flying off the shelves as demand for organic replacements rises. The most popular organic herb and spice blends, according to EHL Ingredients, were sriracha, ras el hanout, harissa, dukkah, za’atar, baharat, ghormeh sabzi, as well as taco spice mixes, BBQ blends and curry powders. In the baking sector, organic alternatives like gram, buckwheat, coconut, almond and rice flour were all popular choices.

“While we are still in a global health crisis, British consumers are becoming even more mindful in their food choices and opting for organic food ingredients to ensure they are eating a healthy balanced diet and taking care of their wellbeing,” said EHL Ingredients joint managing director Tasneem Alonzo. “The pandemic has increased consumer awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health, and organic foods that are perceived to boost immunity – such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, as well as almonds, seeds, herbs and spices – are often considered safer and more nutritious than their conventional versions.”

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What are retailers doing?

Retailers both large and small are getting involved with boosting awareness of organic food this month. For example, Sainsbury’s has created its first ever Organic British Vegetable Box, while independents have launched new promotions and giveaways. 

Matthew Philpott, marketing manager at Better Food, said that while the shop promotes organic food all year round, Organic September has provided a great way to introduce new people to the sector. “A perfect entry point to experience organic is fruit and vegetables, so we’ve reduced the price of our seasonal boxes for the month. As well as creating displays, and running promotions and giveaways in store, we’re also taking the opportunity to shine the spotlight on some of our smaller, local organic producers with features and in-depth interviews,” he said.

Elsewhere, Highland Health Stores and Tattie Bogle’s Deli have created an organic-themed window displays to engage customers, Hampshire-based Organically Speaking offered customers loyalty points for shopping organic and Edinburgh’s Real Foods offered in-store customers and its social media followers the chance to take home a free organic goodie bag.

Are you getting involved with Organic September? We’d love to hear what your shop is doing. Get in touch with courtney.goldsmith@aceville.co.uk.

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