Chefs and foodies alike are big fans of organic produce – the unrivalled quality and sustainability goes hand-in-hand with many chefs’ focus on quality and flavour. Combined with unparalleled welfare standards (organic food label the Soil Association is recommended by Compassion in World Farming for its high welfare assurances), organic is a natural choice for those who care about the environment and sustainable farming.
The health benefits of organic produce are also well-known. Organic milk is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids (an average of 68% more than non-organic dairy cows, as found in studies by Glasgow and Liverpool Universities). Crops grown on organic farms are also found to be of higher nutritional value – a study published by the Soil Association found that organic crops contain 60% higher levels of antioxidants than their non-organic counterparts, as well as containing less heavy-metals such as cadmium.
According to the UK Soil Association, sales of organic produce grew by 4% in 2015 to a total of almost £2billion, despite an overall decline in consumer spending and food prices. The organic industry was knocked off its stride during the recession, but a resurgence is clearly underway. Thanks to a growing awareness of traceability, environmental impact and animal welfare issues – along with a heightened interest in cooking and eating out – we are increasingly looking for higher-quality ingredients and have a growing curiosity about where our food comes from.
The Organic Trade Board (OTB) has recently published a report titled ‘A Fresh Look at the Organic Consumer’ which is the first ever UK Organic Food and Drink Attitude and Usage survey. Their research is the most comprehensive analysis of the UK organic consumer to date and provides evidence of the organic market’s growing momentum. For example, 33% of regular organic consumers entered the market within the last two years and 45% claim they will buy more organic products in the future, showing increasing demand from a fresh audience.
Price has previously been seen as a barrier to buying organic, but the OTB are working hard to challenge this view by launching their #ThriftyOrganic challenge, encouraging the public to swap their regular weekly shop for an organic one.