‘Industry must work together to capitalise on growth potential for organic’

British consumers are increasingly moving towards organic food but the industry must work together to capitalise on the full growth potential of organic in the UK, delegates at the recent UK Organic Congress were told.

Co-organised by several leading organic organisations including the Organic Research Centre (ORC), OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers), the Soil Association and the Organic Trade Board (OTB), the event ‘conveyed an overriding sense of opportunity’, although the development of our future UK agricultural policy was said to be a ‘seminal moment’.

“The UK led the global movement for organic but we’re now well behind our counterparts,” Nic Lampkin, CEO of the ORC told delegates. “As a sector, we’ve been through a difficult period since the recession but we’re now moving in an upward direction, with the domestic market estimated to be worth £2.2 billion and growing.”

He challenged the sector to create a transition to move things forward, saying: “Twenty per cent of land is organic in some countries and 10 per cent of the food market, and this should be the vision for the UK.”

Sue Hayman, Shadow Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, gave the opening address, and said the development of the new Agriculture Bill brings great opportunities for organic. “The Agriculture Bill provides a huge opportunity to integrate environmental and food benefits,” she said. “We know they’re compatible, and we must make sure policy supports this.

“The development of a post-Brexit UK agricultural policy is a seminal moment and talking proactively is very important. Sustainability must be at the forefront of a thriving British farming, food and drink sector.”

The scope for growth in UK organic was reinforced by Paul Holmbeck, political director of Organic Denmark, who presented the progress of the organic sector in Denmark. “Organic food now accounts for 13.3 per cent of the total food market in Denmark and over 30 per cent of the total market for eggs, milk, flour and bananas,” he told delegates. “More than 90 per cent of public procurement of food in Copenhagen is now organic, with 60 perc cent an overall target for the country.”

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