Oliver Moore: Demand for organic produce is growing at remarkable rate

With significant numbers entering organics for the first time, is there a market for the food they are about to produce?

The latest figures from Ireland, the EU and beyond are certainly positive. The Irish organic market has recorded its second successive year of growth.

According to Kantar’s figures year on year growth was 3.1% up to the end on March 2015. The market is now valued at just over €104m, up from €101m in 2014, and similar to the market in 2007/2008.

Bord Bia notes: “Increases in the volume and frequency of organic purchases, as well as new buyers entering the category, are the key drivers of this growth.”

They add that while volume is up, price per pack is down. Despite, or perhaps because of, the veg price wars, vegetables and dairy account for 45% of total organic food share.

Indeed organic fruit and vegetables combined account for 58% of the total volume share of the organic market.

“In terms of organic shoppers, the key segments for organic remain the pre-family and retired/ empty nesters/ older dependants groups, with pre-family being the largest of these groups (23% of all organic shoppers),” says Bord Bia.

Abroad too, the organic market is growing.

According to the latest data released for Denmark, the organic market in that country of some 5.6 million people is now at €830m.

“This figure includes the general retailers (supermarkets and grocery stores), but it does not take into account direct marketing or specialised organic shops,” according to Swiss research institute FiBL.

Figures from 2014 suggest that wholesalers and caterers in the public sector and restaurants recorded sales of €105m, while alternative sales channels such as farm stores, subscription programmes and health food stores had sales of €72m. Compared with 2013, sales in Denmark have increased by 6.1%. The share of the total market is now 7.6%, one of the highest in the world.

While there have been revisions in counting methodologies, it’s clear that across the board, the market is exceptionally strong for organic produce in Denmark.

Denmark has a specific retail environment, with a co-operative store called Co-op Denmark spearheading much of the growth.

Discounters also drive organic food sales there, with a third of all organic produce sales going through that route.

Unlike in Ireland, in Denmark, those aged 30-39 have the highest organic share in their grocery purchases, at 11.2%. The per capita spend is €163, the second highest in the world.

Similarly in the UK, The Soil Association’s 2015 Organic Market Report shows organic products have increased sales by 4% in 2014.

The Soil Association notes: “The new figures announced show this is significant growth in a year when both food prices (down 1.9%) and food spending (down 1.1%) fell.

Shoppers spent an extra £1.4m (€1.92m) a week on organic products and the organic market exceeded £1.86bn, bringing sales back to levels in 2009.

“Overall in 2013, the European organic market grew by approximately 6% to a value of more than €24bn,” FiBL says. This amounted to €22.2bn spent in the EU on organic food.

And outside Europe too, the market continues to grow. The worldwide market for organic products in 2013 — the latest available – has now reached €55bn.

Sales in the US are up 11%, while China is now the fourth largest market for organic in the world, at €2.4bn.

Of course much more work needs to be done to better access these markets. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the markets are out there — markets simply inaccessible to Origin Green or other branding initiatives.


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