Farming News - Organic sector records growth in wake of horsemeat scandal

Organic sector records growth in wake of horsemeat scandal

08 May 2013
Frontdesk / Finance

Figures released by market research group Kantar World-panel this week confirm predictions made earlier in the year by organic farming groups including the Soil Association.  


The figures reveal a small increase in organic sales through Britain's supermarkets in the months from January, when the 'horsemeat scandal' first erupted in the UK and Ireland, to the end of March. The latest quarterly report shows a 1.6 percent rise in organic food sales compared to the first quarter of 2012.


Although the increase in sales is only small, it represents a milestone for the organic movement; a return to growth in the organic food market for the first time since 2009. Soil Association said sales have returned to levels last seen two years ago in May 2011, though organic food sales had been dropping off since 2008 when the financial crisis first hit. Many within the organic sector argue that the shrinking market was the "self-fulfilling" result of supermarkets' reactions to the crisis – cutting organic shelf-space in favour of budget produce.


The Soil Association had predicted a promising start to 2013 for the organic sector in its March Organic Market report, on the back of consumers' response to food scares such as the horsemeat scandal. On Wednesday, the organic organisation said its market intelligence work "also shows organic sales have increased through independent retailers, catering and online."

Food scandals and issues of transparency have wracked the European food sector throughout 2013. Germany has been particularly hard-hit.

Soil Association business development director Jim Twine said, "Whenever consumer confidence is knocked – as it has been through the horsemeat scandal – people look for food that has a positive story to tell and is fully traceable. Recent moves from supermarkets, with the exception of Waitrose, to allow GM animal feed into the supply chain are also likely to impact on sales because the only way to avoid eating chicken or eggs from animals on a GM diet is to buy organic."