Organic food sales take hit

Shoppers are turning away from expensive organic food and towards locally produced food as a result of the credit crisis, according to a report from Mintel.

Research has revelaed that after five years of growth, sales in the organic food sector are predicted to decline and will not match the impressive growth levels seen between 2005 to 2008.

The organic food and drink market is now said to be worth £1.6bn but as a result of the current economic climate, as many as half (48%) of all organic shoppers will reduce or even give up buying organic food in the next year alone.

Richard Perks, Mintel director of retail and financial research, said: "British consumers are clearly beginning to question the value of organics and the added benefits they get from paying the premium price. Now, more than ever, retailers and suppliers need to clearly communicate the ethical, environmental and personal benefits of buying organic."

Research revealed that only 21% of shoppers look for organic produce when out buying food, compared to 33% who look for locally sourced goods and 26% who seek out products that are fair trade.

The market for locally sourced produce is now worth three times that of organic, at £4.8bn. As many as 42% of adults would like more retailers or manufacturers to source their products from local suppliers, while almost three in ten (28%) are happy to pay more for food if it means supporting local farmers.

Perks added: "The success of farmers' markets, the awareness of food miles and the huge increase in the choice of local produce available in supermarkets have all helped boost the popularity of locally sourced foods. There has also been a move in recent years away from heavily processed, highly artificial foods towards better quality and fresher produce as people become increasingly aware of where their food comes from."