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Rise of organic food stalled by recession

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default Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Adrian on 4th April 2011, 11:53 am

A £100m hole was knocked in sales of organic food last year as shoppers opted for cheaper produce in the economic downturn.

Overall, sales fell by 5.9 per cent from £1.84bn to £1.73bn, according to research by the Soil Association, the country's biggest certifier of organic products.

The fall – outlined in the organisation's 2011 Organic Market Report, to be published today, dashed the Soil Association's prediction made last year of a 2 to 5 per cent recovery in 2010. However, it was half the 12 per cent slump in 2009, which ended 16 years of uninterrupted growth.

The fall also slowed in the second half of the year to around 2 per cent and continued to bottom out this year, according to the Organic Trade Board, which is running a £2m advertising campaign to promote organic food as tastier and kinder to animals and the environment.

Organic rules ban artificial fertilisers and pesticides and lay down higher standards for the keeping of pigs and poultry.

Amid concerns about the environment and food quality, the organic movement experienced a boom in the mid-noughties, with sales rising by up to 30 per cent a year.

However, as shoppers adjusted to a harsher economic climate last year, sales of organic fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy – which account for more than half of all organic sales – fell by 6.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively. Fresh meat was down by 5.8 per cent.

Organic ready meals crashed 36 per cent, which the Soil Association put down to people cooking more cheaply from scratch.

By contrast, organic baby food continued its strong growth, jumping 10.3 per cent, and organic textiles – made fashionable by H&M and Zara – increased by 7.8 per cent.

The amount of land in organic production fell by more than 10 per cent, from 4.8 per cent to 4.2 per cent of all farmland, and the number of producers slipped from a record high of 7,896 to 7,567.

Production of organic vegetables and organic milk fell but cereal production increased, buoyed by high grain prices and strong demand for milling wheat.

The big supermarkets still clocked up £1.25bn in sales, 72 per cent of the total, but that was down by an above average 7.7 per cent on the previous year. Box scheme and mail-order deliveries grew by 1 per cent to £156m, probably because those customers have a stronger commitment to the movement.

The Soil Association pointed out that 86 per cent of households now bought organic products.

Despite the overall drop, the Soil Association was quietly confident about the future, saying that Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and the Co-op expected sales to level off this year while Waitrose and Marks & Spencer predicted a small rise.

"The outlook for 2011 is cautiously optimistic," it said. "Despite fragile consumer confidence in the wider economy, the report shows positive signs of resilience and recovery for the organic sector overall."

Huw Bowles, the chairman of the Organic Trade Board – funded by producers such as Yeo Valley and Organix – said the economy had been the main reason people had reduced their spending. "A couple of years ago, people thought it was the end of the world and nobody would be able to afford organic, but as time has gone on, people have realised that organic is still here and that the reasons to buy organic are still still valid," he said. "People are probably not buying as frequently and as much as they were two years ago."

Roger Mortlock, the deputy director of the Soil Association, said it would be "rash" to make predictions for the future. "The instability caused by climate change, population growth and resource depletion mean that business as usual in food and farming is not an option."

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Adrian
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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 1:46 pm

What infuriates me about the "organic vs chemical farmed" debate is that no mention is ever made of the huge cost of cleaning up the water supplied through the drinking water systen to households. All the pesticide and herbicdes sprayed on crops etc go into the ground and eventually some go into the water system where some ( not all!) have to be removed before it is supplied. Also intensive farming practises mean slurry lagoons etc, whereas small scale doesn't on the whole.

Granted, Organic farms have a few chemicals they are allowed to use ( as a last resort only) but nothing like as much, or as nasty.

If the cost of clean up was added into the cost of chemically grown food so we were asked to pay a more representative price, it would I suspect be much more expensive that it currently is.

And don't get me started on the reason so much intensively farmed food is cheap....the poor ethics of intensive farming, for a start.

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Adrian on 4th April 2011, 1:48 pm

No, please, get started. Very Happy

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 1:57 pm

When I come back in from checking and feeding my non intensively farmed chicken flock!

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 2:28 pm

Compostwoman wrote:When I come back in from checking and feeding my non intensively farmed chicken flock!
Back now, and actually there is a good example of the Intensive, unethical vs Extensive, higher standards..

I keep free range hens for eggs. I buy organic certified feed for them and they get an afternoon treat of a bit of organic mixed corn. Apart from that they range in the Wood, (and in my veg patch if they get the chance. Evil or Very Mad Very Happy )

OK, I could buy cheaper feed but it will almost certainly contain GM feed ( the Organic probably does as well, due to unavoidable contamination but it has to be less than 0.5%) which I am not prepared to eat traces of and would not be comfortable using. I manage this place organically so I am not going to start bringing in imput which is non organic, esopecially as the chicken poo is the only source of animal fertiliser I use - the rest is from compost.

I sell my eggs "at the farm gate" ( this is a term which means I don't have to do lots of extra packaging labelling stuff/register with DEFRA as long as I have less than 50 poultry in total - I can sell to passing people and also at a Farmers Market but NOT to a shop or Resturant etc.)

Although I like my hens enormously Very Happy , I keep more now than just a few for our own purposes - I keep enough hens that I am not just selling surplus eggs; I actually sell the eggs to pay the running costs for the birds I keep. if I didn't sell the eggs I would reduce my flock - simple economics would dictate that.

The feed and corn has over the last months slowly incresed in price , which means I now need to increase the price of my eggs to cover this increase. Never mind any extra to cover the price increase of other stuff the hens use ( various remedies, straw etc) just the feed increase alone means I need to put my prices up.

So I have. And a couple of people now say they won't be buying because of the (really very small and the first one for 2 years.) price increase. Some are irregular customers, some are people who stop but don't buy because of the price.

When I gently point out to them how much more the equivalent eggs were in the local Supermarkets (Free range or Organic) or at other Farm Shops locally...they told me they buy "cheaper" eggs from the supermarket instead...

Which can only mean more Intensive reared Hens, Crying or Very sad

Now I respect their choice to do what they like with their money...

But the price ( I refuse to write "cost" because the price of a thing does not always reflect the cost of a thing, especially where animals are concerned.) of these intensive eggs is not much cheaper than mine.

And how can someone compare eggs from hens they can see running around in a wood, where they have gone and collected the egg from the box or fed the hens ( Oh yes, I have been known to let people do that!)

to the products of birds who never have a decent "real chicken" moment in their short lives, from the moment they are hatched until the moment they are killed.

And STILL decide to buy them, for the sake of a few pence saved per egg, is beyond me. Honestly I do not understand the mindset at all.

This is not a whinge from me about the loss of a couple of customers btw, as I have lots of people who do want to buy the eggs, even at the increased price! - it is a cry of despair at the attitude toward animals and food which makes it "OK" to support a system of cruelty; for the sake of a few pence per egg saving in purchase price.

I know Stonehead is finding the same ( only far more economically damaging) with his pigs - I guess Billy could say the same, and ask any smaller scale producer of free range, extensive, happy meat and eggs etc and they would say the same.

A lot of people just do not seem to care where their food comes from, as long as it is cheap.

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Dandelion on 4th April 2011, 9:26 pm

Compostwoman wrote:

A lot of people just do not seem to care where their food comes from, as long as it is cheap.

Just to take this off topic a bit, cheap food can also mean insufferable conditions for humans. I saw a bar of chocolate in T£sco today which was proudly labelled 'Ivory Coast chocolate' - it is a fact that child slavery exists on many chocolate plantations in the Ivory Coast but these products are still freely available.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 10:39 pm

Dandelion wrote:
Compostwoman wrote:

A lot of people just do not seem to care where their food comes from, as long as it is cheap.

Just to take this off topic a bit, cheap food can also mean insufferable conditions for humans. I saw a bar of chocolate in T£sco today which was proudly labelled 'Ivory Coast chocolate' - it is a fact that child slavery exists on many chocolate plantations in the Ivory Coast but these products are still freely available.
Oh, I include Humans in with the " animal" tag.

Organic food standards, whilst not explicitly promoting better wages, conditions etc for the growers, do at least stop them dying from pesticide/herbicide contamination.

And the higher premium does get passed downwards a little.

Some certifiers do have ethical requirements for the growers, as well as the animals.....

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 11:23 pm

Oh, the link to Stonehead's blog post is [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Adrian on 4th April 2011, 11:32 pm

Oh, so good to see that Stoney is still around.

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 4th April 2011, 11:40 pm

Yes, but still struggling with numpties who mess them around over ordering his stock

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Post by MrsC on 5th April 2011, 9:25 am

Picking up on one point in Badger's original post - the organic baby food market is (IIRC from a Twitter post I read yesterday) the only part of the organic market where there was growth in the last 12 months (at least here in the UK). Cue lots of comments in the article I read about how it was still the "in thing" to do for "Yummy Mummies". To be honest round here (and maybe that is something to do with where I live) it is very hard not to buy organic read made baby food.

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default Re: Rise of organic food stalled by recession

Post by Compostwoman on 5th April 2011, 9:48 am

I find it puzzling that so many parents worry about not adding to their baby's chemical burden and so feed their child on organic babyfood, but when the child gets a bit older they often choose to drop buying the organic/unsprayed foodstuffs....

And also puzzling how so many parents recognise organic/unsprayed food is better (comes with many less added chemicals, for a start), but don't buy even the cheaper organic/unsprayed alternatives to chemically farmed food.

I guess it is a question of their priorities.

I am not making a judgement here, just an observation.

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