We’ve handpicked five key trends that the report reveals about organic shopping habits.
1. Organic shoppers are keeping their cool
Sales of organic food and drink have increased overall, but there are a couple of key product lines that drive the growth. Chilled convenience foods and deli items, especially vegetarian and vegan options such as tofu, have seen a growth of over 25% year-on-year.
Also leading the way – and often best served chilled – are beers, wines and spirits.
The consumer demand for gin has had an impact on Organic Herb Trading – a business that Triodos lends to – which sources and supplies over 500 organic herbs, spices and botanicals to some of the UK’s leading organic brands. Mike Bond, business development manager, said: “We have continued to see a welcome rise in the number of organic-certified distilleries, as well as an exciting trend for non-alcoholic botanical spirits across the UK and Europe.
“In this sector quality and provenance take centre stage, and as a result we have seen significantly increased demand for our botanical ingredients. We offer multiple origins of organic juniper and have seen increased sales of our Somerset-grown biodynamic botanicals, including angelica root, coriander seed, wormwood, thyme and lemon balm.”
2. Thinking inside the box
Home delivery of organic produce through online and box schemes grew rapidly last year, with a 14%
increase in sales. In fact, by 2023 the Soil Association expects home deliveries to account for a quarter of total sales of organic in the UK.
With packaging waste a hot topic during 2018, it comes as no surprise that consumers opted for traditional box schemes, from suppliers such as Riverford or Troed y Rhiw Farm, which tend to leave produce unpacked.
3. Britain is still a nation of shopkeepers
There are an estimated 800-1,000 independent shops in the UK that sell organic products – including delis, health stores, butchers, bakers and greengrocers. These independent retailers accounted for £381 million worth of organic products bought in 2018.
Consumers are continuing to opt for the personal touch when shopping, as independents saw sales increase by over 6% - almost 3% more growth than supermarkets saw on their organic lines last year.
Similarly to box schemes, independent retailers are well established for plastic-free shopping, which could be a factor in the continuing popularity.
4. The table’s set for organic dining
It’s not all about shopping however, eating organic is also a consideration when we’re out and about. 43% of people polled for the Soil Association’s 2018 Eating Out survey said that they think a restaurant or café will be better than others if they see organic on the menu.
Sales of organic produce to the catering industry increased last year, with high street restaurants responding to diners seeking more sustainable options. This mirrored a rise in the number of cafés and restaurants signed up to the Organic Served Here award scheme. The Soil Association expects to have tripled its list of registered outlets to 70 by the spring.
5. Beauty is more than skin deep
Sales of organic beauty and wellbeing products were on the rise during 2018. In line with this, double the number of organic and natural beauty products became COSMOS certified in the UK than in 2017, with more and bigger brands signing up.
Meanwhile, consumers were also thinking beyond appearances with their clothing and textiles choices. 61% of consumers would like to know more information about the environmental impact of their clothes, as well as workers’ human rights, according to a Fashion Revolution consumer survey.
All statistics are taken from Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report 2019, unless otherwise stated.
Find out more
Learn more about Soil Association Certification’s work here.
Triodos Bank has a long history of supporting businesses in the organic supply chain, including over 35 years’ experience in financing organic agriculture. It’s key to us, and the organisations that we work with on a daily basis, to keep up-to-date on what consumers are buying and the trends shaping the sector. To discover more about how Triodos Bank supports the organic sector, visit our webpage here.
About Simon Crichton
Simon leads Triodos Bank’s specialist organic food, farming and trade team. He joined Triodos Bank in 2009 having completed a degree in Agriculture at Harper Adams and worked as a farm consultant. He has nearly 20 years’ experience in agricultural banking and still learning.
Simon is involved with number of organisations supporting a sustainable approach to business.