Welcome return to growth in the organic sector

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Organic food sales have recorded annual growth for the first time since 2008, the Soil Association’s annual market report claims.

Overall growth in the sector was up by 2.8 per cent in the past year and the appetite for organic food is strong in Yorkshire with a consumer survey finding that around one in ten adults in the region bought organic produce in the last week.

Four out of five households now buy organic produce, the survey results suggest, and the main reasons given for Yorkshire consumers choosing organic were: it contains fewer chemicals and pesticides, is natural and unprocessed, and is healthier for me and my family.

Greg Penn, sales manager at Home Farm in Newby Wiske near Thirsk which operates as part of Riverford Organic Farms to deliver organic veggie boxes in Yorkshire, said the farm’s sales had risen by 14.5 per cent in the last year, helped by bumper crops thanks to the summer’s prolonged warm weather.

Mr Penn said: “Towards the back end of the last financial year sales were up on the back of the horsemeat scandal and that has continued into the next.”

Arnold Warneken, a partner at Wetherby-based veggie box operation Goosemoor Organics, said: “I think there is definitely more people turning to organic food but the reasons why will be quite varied. Some people shift to a chemical-free diet because of serious illness and are advised to try organic, and customers that have started a family may be looking at what their children are eating, then you have others who have received a lot of information about local producers and have got on to thinking about their food miles.”