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£3.05 billion is the highest ever value for the UK organic market, and surpassed the Soil Association’s 2021 predictions.
Speaking in the foreword of the report, Helen Browning, group CEO of the Soil Association explained: “Another year of Covid-19 and of dealing with the impact of Brexit has left many businesses reeling. Supply chains are disrupted, labour shortages are a nightmare, especially for those that have seasonal peaks, and costs are rising fast. The organic sector is by no means immune from these widespread woes. Yet, it has managed to show exceptional resilience and growth – breaking the £3 billion mark in 2021.”
Retailers responding to the report survey saw increased sales of fruit and vegetables while sales of dairy, eggs and meat, especially chicken and beef, have also grown. This reflects consumer interest in wanting to know where their food comes from and to support local retailers. The survey also revealed that more younger customers are coming into independent stores looking for organic options because they want to eat healthily.
Consumer interest in health
Independent organic retailers are predicting an increase of around 6% in 2022, driven by increased consumer interest in health and the environment, and seeing footfall return in stores. But retailers are concerned about the availability of organic products, supply chains and inflation.
Anderson Caicedo, co-founder and managing director at
GreenBay, a fully vegan supermarket championing organic products, agreed, “From whole foods to plant-based cheese, chocolates, and drinks. The demand for healthier cleaner products is greater than ever and will continue growing as more people are becoming aware of the risks involved with a traditional western diet. The benefits of an organic plant-based diet are vast and people want to live healthily. Fewer pesticides, no conservatives and the impact of organic farming on the environment are just a few of the benefits of organic produce.
“At GreenBay some of our organic best-sellers are: Naturli vegan butter, Yarrah Organic Adult Dog Food, Taifun tofu, Made in Mendoza Organic Wine, Terra Vegane Organic Omelette Mix, Amy’s Kitchen tinned soups, porridge and all staples like brown rice, plant-based milks, sugar and other grains.”
An online organic revolution
Sales of organic online have had another great year, increasing by 13% to be worth £558.6 million. This is something GreenBay has also experienced over the past few years: “The organic grocery market continues growing year by year and we have seen more people buying organic products on all our channels. Recently we partnered with Deliveroo and the demand for organic products on this platform has been huge. In fact, many of our customers don’t follow a plant-based diet, but they have shown interest in the organic range.
“Customer behaviour has changed forever, and businesses cannot expect things to go back to pre-covid times. People have learned to adapt to a new way of shopping and as such, businesses need to adjust to these changes, otherwise, they might struggle to survive. Grocery shopping is now a truly omnichannel business and customers are everywhere so we need to be able to provide all channels available so the customer can access their products. In our case, customers can access our products in-store, online, over the phone and now on Deliveroo.”
Interestingly, millennial and Generation Z shoppers are accessing and choosing organic and sustainable options through innovative technology which complement existing online channels. And with 25% of Gen-Zs and 18% of millennials currently choosing meat-free and health-focused diets according to Finder, it is more important than ever before to take your organic products online.
Organic shoppers choose plant-based
The number of people in the UK who maintain a vegetarian or vegan diet is now estimated to be 9%, with a further 5% following a pescetarian which only equates to 14%, however, according to recent figures from NielsonIQ, half (50%) of regular organic shoppers are adopting a fully or more plant-based diet. Organic sales suggest more people are responding to the message of eating less but better meat, and this is something independent retailers can capitalise on.
Moreover, the vegetarian and plant-based alternatives category is now worth £1.5 billion, increasing by over a third (34%) in 2020, according to the Co-op’s Ethical Consumerism Report 2021. This shows that organic plant-based businesses are extremely lucrative, demonstrated by the acquisition of vegan milk and juice company Plenish by Britvic.
With a strong and resilient organic market on the rise, now is the time to maximise profits from your health-conscious customers and stay on-trend.