Soil Association reveals that lockdown sparked a sales surge for organic certified products
New data shows that sales of organic food in supermarkets have seen the biggest jump since December 2016, with year-on-year growth hitting more than six per cent.
Beef, eggs, jams, and sparkling wine have all seen "exceptional" growth, while the industry has been further boosted by many consumers moving to organic fruit and veg delivery services. Despite the coronavirus-induced economic crisis, the organic foods market is now projected to overshoot its predicted growth and reach £2.6bn this year.
The results, provided by this week by the research firm Nielsen, come as the Soil Association - a leading charity supporting organic and sustainable food production - launches Organic September, a month long "celebration of organic farming, food, drink, beauty products and clothes".
A 30-day list of hints and tips for joining the "organic movement" has been published this week, including advice on eating at organic-only restaurants, visiting organic farms, and sowing your own organic seeds for next year.
The organic food industry will hope that its strong performance is a sign that it is well placed to weather the economic downturn - hopes that were fuelled by a new YouGov survey commissioned by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission & The Food Foundation that revealed 42 per cent of people feel the crisis has made them value food more.
Louisa Pharaoh, director of fundraising at the Soil Association, said: "Organic September is a brilliant opportunity for us to talk to people about the Soil Association and all the work we are doing to restore nature, health and a safe climate. Organic farming is a whole system approach that nurtures the soil, biodiversity and our planet. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant more people appreciate where food comes from, and with the increased interest in growing veg in our gardens and home baking, there's never been a better time to talk to people about the benefits of organic farming."
The Soil Association says organic farming could play a key role in fighting climate change. On average organic farmers use less energy than non-organic counterparts, it says, while organic soils can hold up to twice as much water, mitigating the impact of a changing climate. If Europe's farmland converted to organic, agricultural emissions could be slashed by 40 to 50 percent by 2050, the organisation estimates.
However, critics argue that growing food demand and the need to free up more land for nature-based carbon capture projects will require the wider adoption of non-organic practices and technologies.
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