Or­ganic sales show up­ward trend – and Den­mark points the way in frag­ile mar­ket

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Advertiser Farming -

OR­GANIC sales in the UK are cur­rently en­joy­ing a very pos­i­tive trend, worth £2.09 bil­lion and show­ing growth of 7.2%.

While these are re­sults we can be proud of, it is still a frag­ile mar­ket and, as we saw in 2008, it can change rapidly.

I don’t be­lieve the fall we saw some nine years ago was al­to­gether be­cause of the eco­nomic state of the coun­try, but more a knee­jerk re­ac­tion from re­tail­ers and their view that cus­tomers would not buy or­ganic.

Stud­ies have since shown that cus­tomers did not buy or­ganic sim­ply be­cause it wasn’t on the shelves, not that it was too ex­pen­sive.

It is in­ter­est­ing to see how Den­mark has de­vel­oped its or­ganic strat­egy over the last few years, to be­come one of the world’s big­gest or­ganic mar­kets.

It has grown from very hum­ble begin­nings in 1982 when the first or­ganic car­rots were sold in store to now, where Dan­ish con­sumers are the most or­ganic in the world, spend­ing 269 eu­ros each on or­ganic food each year.

Dan­ish con­sumers de­mand high qual­ity food, but are also very price con­scious.

Re­tail­ers in Den­mark were keen to sell or­ganic food – and par­tic­u­larly dis­count re­tail­ers.

Some 39% of all or­ganic sales are through dis­count stores, the strat­egy be­ing that or­ganic should be af­ford­able to all.

Ex­port is also a pos­i­tive story with over 50% of all or­ganic dairy be­ing ex­ported, and the to­tal or­ganic ex­port mar­ket be­ing worth 270m Eu­ros.

The or­ganic red la­bel in Den­mark is well recog­nised.

100% of peo­ple sur­veyed ei­ther knew about or had heard of the la­bel, and 81% said they trusted it.

It would be good if we could at­tain a sim­i­lar fig­ure for our own Red Trac­tor la­bel in the UK, never mind any or­ganic la­belling.

I do think we sim­ply con­fuse the con­sumer, with so many lo­gos and on-pack de­tails.

A key point for the in­crease in aware­ness of or­ganic food in Den­mark, was in 2012, when the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment made it com­pul­sory for 60% of food used in the pub­lic food ser­vice to be or­ganic in ori­gin.

Pub­lic pro­cure­ment in the UK seems to strug­gle to be of UK ori­gin, let alone or­ganic.

So there is some­thing to strive for!

With the im­proved growth within the UK, it is im­por­tant that we con­tinue to de­velop that pos­i­tive trend.

To of­fer con­sis­tent qual­ity and en­gage with the re­tail­ers to not sell us as a niche of­fer­ing, but a qual­ity, af­ford­able choice for all.

To en­cour­age gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the is­sue in the pub­lic food sec­tor and not dis­miss or­ganic.

Most im­por­tantly to pro­mote and pro­tect what we do and how we farm, to show the ev­i­dence for or­ganic farm­ing in its own light with­out cast­ing shad­ows on other sys­tems.

Good mar­ket­ing does not rely on point scor­ing, but en­gag­ing with con­sumers and re­tail­ers to earn that trust and loy­alty.

It has to be a two-way con­ver­sa­tion and we have to lis­ten to our cus­tomers to help both of us un­der­stand bet­ter.

We’ve come a long way since the “Silent Spring” – and maybe the ben­e­fit of or­ganic for all is be­gin­ning to dawn.

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