UK organic market hits highest growth level in 15 years

The latest Soil Association Certification report reveals the UK’s organic market is now worth £2.79 billion, after a 12.6% growth in sales in 2020.

During 2020 more than £50 million per week was spent on organic food and drink in the UK.

According to the report, year-on-year sales growth of organic produce reached 12.6% in 2020.

This is the highest year-on-year growth rate recorded within the sector since 2005. The UK market is on target to reach £2.9 billion by the end of 2021.

Significantly, online and home delivery sales fuelled much of the growth in the market during 2020, with sales increasing by 36.2%.

Supermarket sales

Meanwhile, sales in supermarkets increased by 12.5% with many categories showing growth over 20%.

Sophie Kirk, senior business development manager Soil Association Certification, said: 

“The unprecedented crisis of 2020 has brought immense challenges for organic farmers and the entire food supply chain.

So it’s heartening that in times of crisis, more people are supporting homegrown organic produce, with many organic products such as eggs, cheese, carrots, beef and lamb benefitting from strong sales growth through supermarkets this year.

“Online sales through box schemes and home delivery services have seen standout growth of 36.2%, with many organic businesses expanding their online and direct to consumer sales,” she added.

“With the UK organic market growing faster than ever and expected to reach £2.9 billion by the end of 2021, there are opportunities for organic farmers looking to meet growing consumer demand for sustainable food and drink.”

Wilma Finlay is managing director at The Ethical Dairy in Castle Douglas, Scotland – the first commercial dairy in the UK to be following the cow with calf method.

She said:

“We converted our 350ha dairy farm to organic 20 years ago as part of a long-term project to make our farm more resilient whilst treating land, animals and people with respect.

We’ve cut out fertilisers, vaccines and antibiotics, and moved to a 100% pasture-based cow with calf dairy system and have seen huge benefits for animal welfare, soil health and biodiversity.

“Four years ago we started processing and selling our own cheese and in 2020 we saw a strong surge in demand for our products, significantly increasing the amount of product sold directly to customers with home delivery accounting for 80% of our business sales.

“The majority of our market are based in London and we use social media to connect directly with our customers and engage them with our farm story. We are positive about 2021 and will focus on online sales alongside retail,” she concluded.