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BWS second fastest-growing organic category

Beer, wine and spirits is the second fastest-growing organic category in the UK, according to the Soil Association’s 2017 report published this morning, with the UK’s organic market passing the £2 billion mark for the first time.

It represents the fifth year of consecutive growth for the UK organic market, which is now worth £2.09 billion, with sales increasing by 7.1% from the £1.95 billion the previous year.

In terms of distribution channels, supermarket sales of organic produces have grown by 6.1%, accounting for 69% of all sales, while independent retailers increased their sales of organic produce by 6.3%.

The organic market represents just 1.5% of the UK food and drink market, but as organic sales have risen, non-organic sales continued to decline in 2016.

“More consumers are seeking organic – confirmed by recent research from England Marketing – revealing 39% of shoppers buy organic food on a weekly basis,” the Soil Association said. “80% of all consumers said that they have some knowledge about organic food.”

Within the organic food and drink market, the beer, wine and spirits category saw the second biggest growth in terms of market share, which increased by 14.3% to 2.2% of the market. The biggest organic growth category was chilled foods and deli, which increased its market share by 16% to 2.9%.

“Organic wines are seeing something of a renaissance,” said Finn Cottle, trade consultant at the Soil Association. “Whilst the whole organic market is in general outperforming non-organic food and drink sales, organic still wine is a runaway success story. And English organic wine makers are seeing booming sales too – perhaps as people rediscover that link with their environment that organic exemplifies.

“Our 2016 sales figures show organic wine had a brilliant Christmas – up nearly 40% and the same with beer which also had a great four weeks leading up to Christmas.  There are strong trends towards organic craft beer and we’re seeing more innovation from companies like Stroud Brewery.”

Beer, wine and spirits was followed by canned and packaged organic goods, which grew by 12.7% to take a 15.8% share of the market, and fresh produce, which grew by 10.3% to take a 23.5% share of the market, second only dairy which holds the biggest share at 29%.

Interestingly, the market share of organic meat, fish and poultry declined by 1% – a category that has been a mainstay of the organic market.

“It’s a positive time for organic as it ticks lots of boxes for consumers,” said Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification.

“Organic is extremely relevant for trends towards eating better food, knowing where your food comes from, avoiding pesticides or antibiotics and ‘free from’ diets. Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers choose organic as a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle and this will continue. Despite uncertainty around Brexit for us all, it brings lots of opportunities too – particularly for export for British organic and more product innovation.”

Globally, the organic food and drink market is worth $81 billion, with the UK representing 4% of global sales.

This month the drinks business launched its inaugural Global Organic Masters tasting competition for certified organic and biodynamic wines. The competition is open to all styles of wine, from sparkling to fortified, as long as they are made with grapes that are certified either organic or biodynamic.

Like our other Masters tastings competitions, which span the leading styles of wine – from sparking to rosé – as well as major noble grape varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the wines are judged blind without any indication of their origin. The best wines will be awarded medals from Bronze through to Gold, with only the truly exceptional wines awarded the top accolade of Master.

For more information on entering click here.

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