Organic food avoids credit crunch hit

WHILE the credit crunch may be forcing people to cut back on their spending, organic producers and farm shops have told how sales in their sector have not been adversely affected.

Lizzie Parry

WHILE the credit crunch may be forcing people to cut back on their spending, organic producers and farm shops have told how sales in their sector have not been adversely affected.

Organic sales continue to grow with no apparent dip in demand, according to the Soil Association, which certifies more than 80% of the UK's organic food.

The charity expects to see a healthy 10% growth for sales of organic products this year, which it says is four to five times higher than sales growth for the general food market.


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In Suffolk, producers have attributed the sustained growth to the idea that those who choose to buy organic produce will stick with organic goods, regardless of the current economic climate.

Alison Youngman, owner of The Grange Farm Shop in Hasketon, near Woodbridge, said: “We haven't seen a real change in sales of organic food, at the moment we haven't noticed a pull away. I think people that choose organic food will still buy it regardless.”

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Oliver Paul, director of Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead, near Ipswich, said: “The credit crunch isn't really affecting us.

“We haven't seen a drop in the sales of organic produce, sales of organic fruit and veg have actually increased by 31% from June to July this year.

“We have seen that people are being more discerning about their shopping, rather than buy everything in supermarkets people are tending to buy the bulk of shop at the bigger stores but are coming to farm shops for select items, like meat and fruit and veg. People are being choosier about where they are buying their food from.”

Predictions are that as oil prices continue to push up the price of chemical fertilisers and energy costs, organic farming will gain a competitive advantage and become a more viable option for more farmers.

Patrick Holden, director of Soil Association, said: “It's important to note that Government-funded research has shown that organic uses 26% less energy than non-organic per kilogram of food, largely because we do not use energy-intensive artificial fertiliser.”

Organic farming does not use artificial fertilisers, instead building soil fertility through crop rotations and the use of clover that fixes nitrogen naturally from the atmosphere using the sun's energy and photosynthesis.

A spokeswoman from Sainsburys said the impact of the economic slowdown on its organic sales had also been minimal.

She said: “We haven't noticed a huge change. Organic food is very popular with Sainsbury's customers, if people choose to buy organic products they will continue to do so.”

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