THE AMOUNT OF land dedicated to organic farming in the UK has been heavily reduced, according to a new Defra study.
Landmass used to grow organic crops and livestock had fallen to 605,329 hectares in 2012, a fifth less than in 2008.
It is thought that the recession may have had an impact, as cash-strapped consumers look to save money by opting for cheaper, non-organic products.
However, figures released in May 2013 by Kantar Worldpanel show that there has been a sudden spike in organic food sales as the horsemeat scandal continues to shake consumer confidence in non-organic brands and food provenance becomes increasingly important.
Jim Twine, business development director for the Soil Association, said, “The Soil Association's 2013 Organic Market report predicted a positive future for the UK organic market and these figures confirm things are improving. Whenever consumer confidence is knocked – as it has been through the horsemeat scandal – people look for food that has a positive story to tell and is fully traceable. Recent moves from supermarkets, with the exception of Waitrose, to allow GM animal feed into the supply chain are also likely to impact on sales because the only way to avoid eating chicken or eggs from animals on a GM diet is to buy organic.
“Turnover declarations from Soil Association licensees showed a 1.6% increase to the end of March. Whilst these figures represent more positive news for the market there is an increasing danger of supply chain shortages of key organic products. To prevent a shortfall, the Soil Association is urging all retailers to work more closely than ever with their organic suppliers to ensure higher farm gate prices, better planning and decent forward contracts. This in turn will help to restore producer confidence and safeguard future supply.”