Footprint: the monthly update from the foodservice sustainability champion

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd May 2014
This is part of a series of monthly updates from Footprint, a publication promoting sustainable responsible business in the foodservice industry.   

Organic again?

F30 Cover Organic Food has had a tough few years, but the 2014 market report by the Soil Association suggests that it’s back in vogue. Sales were up 2.8% in 2013 – the first time the category has been in growth for five years. Indeed, sluggish performances following the economic downturn have seen the land put down to grow organic crops fall – just 3.5% of UK agricultural land is now organic. But the Soil Association hopes the new figures will breathe life back into the sector. A survey published alongside the report found that organic shoppers expect to buy more organic products this year than last, reason enough to be “positive about the outlook for organic in 2014 and beyond”, according to Rob Sexton, the CEO of Soil Association Certification. “To see the organic market showing such strong signs of growth, particularly when grocery sales as a whole are slowing, shows just how much potential there is in the organic sector.” The horse meat scandal has been a factor (there was a “spring surge”), but increased new product development and investment in marketing are thought to be the main reasons for the sales uplift. Four in five households bought organic food in 2013, with under-34s most willing to spend more on it. Shoppers perceive it as healthier, natural and better for the environment. One in three consumers also believe organic to be healthier. However, sales growth in the supermarkets was dwarfed by that in independent retailers and caterers. In foodservice, sales rose by 10% to £17.5m, fuelled by the popularity of the Food for Life Catering Mark and demand from high- street chains such as McDonald’s and Pret A Manger. Government backing has also helped says the Soil Association – the Department of Education’s School Food Plan highlighted the Catering Mark as an effective way to raise food standards. About 6,000 schools now serve meals accredited under the scheme. The creation of a new Catering Mark supplier membership last year is also driving interest. The network already has over 100 members, including large wholesalers and distributors such as 3663, Brakes, E-foods and NCB. The Soil Association is now hopeful that the sector can return to its pre-recession heyday, when double-digit year-on-year sales growth was the norm. Number cruncher 10% - growth in foodservice sales of organic food £1.79bn - UK organic sales 37% - consumers who buy organic due to fewer chemicals 33% - consumers who buy organic because it is ‘healthier’ 605,629 – hectares used to grow organic food – down 7.3%

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd May 2014

Footprint: the monthly update from the foodservice sustainability champion