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Britons hungry for organic food and drink

Published:  23 July, 2008

UK: Growing organic market threatened by higher prices and difficulties sourcing enough produce in Britain, the Soil Association has said.

The report showed that although more people have turned to organic food and drink, it is still largely a preserve of relatively affluent southerners.

Consumers in Scotland and the east Midlands are the least likely to buy it. Nearly 50% of people who bought it last year thought the prices were too expensive.

In one of the least expected trends, organic food is moving rapidly from vegetables and cereals into processed foods, clothing, beauty products and alcohol.

Most sectors increased 15%-30% last year.

The report said supermarkets still sell 75% of all organic products. Sales increased by 225m to more than 1.44bn last year.

According to the Soil Association, a premium organic sector is emerging where products have added benefits such as higher quality ingredients or are fairly traded. A Soil Association poll found 38% of people wanted local sourcing of food.

Despite the overall success of organic food in Britain, the amount of land turned to growing it decreased for the third year running in 2006 and is now 22% less than in 2004. Fully organic land in Scotland decreased by 14% and in England by 4%.

Worldwide, sales grew by more than 15% to nearly 20bn with Germany reporting a 20% increase. The organic land area in Europe has grown by nearly 400% in 10 years.