It’s the “forgotten” food trend that keeps growing on us.
Veganism may have been the darling of 2018, but a once radical food concept is continuing to grow in popularity out of the media spotlight.
And if past performance is anything to go by, 2019 will see the organic food movement attract new converts.
Not so long ago, “organic” was seen as a niche consumer market for the chattering classes and new age hippies. The fact we don’t hear so much about it – in the face of “vegan this,” “vegan that,” and “plant-based the other” – shows how embedded the notion of so-called natural food has become in the UK.
When newspapers, magazines and websites stop writing about an issue, it usually means it has disappeared or become so normalised it is no longer of note. The latter may well be the case with organic foods such as vegetables, fruits and meats.
The Soil Association’s 2019 Organic Market Report, due to be launched in February, is likely to show increased sales of organic produce at supermarkets. If confirmed, it will be the seventh consecutive year of growth in the sector following the blip of the recession. The 2018 report revealed the market is now worth £2.2 billion, an increase of 6% on 2017.
Dairy remains the biggest segment of the organic sector, accounting for about 29% of the total. It will be interesting to see if organic wines and beers continue their rise in popularity. Britain’s booming craft beer culture, and interest in natural brewing, suggests there will be a further lift in alcoholic drinks.
Overall, organic produce may represent a small part of the UK’s total food and drink market (estimated at less than 2%) but with changing consumer perceptions about sustainability and heightened health concerns (remember last year’s horror stories about the amount of plastics we inadvertently ingest?) it looks like organic will continue its steady progress as part of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.
That has certainly been the case across The Pond. According to the global number-crunchers at Nielsen, organic products are worth more than $21 billion, a rise of 9% in value, in the USA.
Nielsen says: “Gone are the days when organic products catered to a singular or specific audience. Today, organics have hit the mainstream. Not only are organic products boosting our industry’s top-line, they are being purchased more by all generational and age cohorts.”
The biggest percentage increase in sales throughout 2018 was driven by millennials (up 14%).
Whether the popularity of organic is down to people eating more vegetables, the rise of veganism, or meat-eaters choosing environmentally-friendly products, organic is now part and parcel of British food culture.