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Foodservice now accounts for £76.6 million of organic market value

The Soil Association’s 2017 Organic Market Report launched today, 21 February, reveals the UK organic market continues with its fifth year of growth, driven by a significant 19.1% increase in organic in the foodservice sector, which is now worth £76.6 million. There has been a 66% increase in sales of organic through the Food for Life Catering Mark with £15 million now spent.

The total UK organic market is now worth £2.09 billion. Sales of organic products increased by 7.1% in 2016 while non-organic sales continued to decline. Organic represents around 1.5% of the total UK food and drink market.

Key foodservice trends highlighted in the report include:

  • Over £15 million was spent on organic through Food for Life Catering Mark holders in schools, hospitals, nurseries, workplaces and universities. This is an increase of 66% since last year. 
  • Over one third of UK schools serveSoil Association Food for Life Catering Mark Silver or Gold meals, a percentage of which includes organic.
  • A greater number of wholesalers are offering organic – there is nearly a quarter more wholesalers licensed to sell organic than the previous year.
  • High street restaurant chains and visitor attractions are including more organic products on their menus, including Jamie’s Italian, McDonalds, Nando’s, Chester Zoo and Eden Project.

Rich Watts, senior Catering Mark manager at Soil Association Certification said; “Organic is increasingly seen as a shortcut to healthy lifestyle choices and there are clear opportunities for food providers as more and more people seek out organic choices. Soil Association research reveals that organic ticks many boxes for customers, including eating better food, knowing where your food comes from, and avoiding pesticides or antibiotics. 

“The catering sector is leading the way in driving up the standards of food served outside of the home and responding to the demand for better food. Organic is part of this and the spend on organic through the Food for Life Catering Mark is hugely encouraging. We are supporting caterers and foodservice by improving links throughout the supply chain through the Catering Mark Supplier Scheme, and there are clear opportunities for all involved as more people search out British, local and organic produce.”

Ian Platt, Head of Supply Chain Services at BaxterStorey explains why they search out organic ingredients; “Our company prides itself in finding ways to add value to the customer, whether that be through the training and development of our teams or the sourcing of our ingredients. Whilst we look to source fresh ingredients they should also be ethical and traceable. In many of the environments where we work organic gives us and our customers confidence that a product has been produced naturally and without harm to the environment. Our accreditations through silver and gold catering marks have praised this approach.”‎

UK sales have caught up with market growth rates around the world. There are opportunities to further increase the amount of organic in foodservice sector – following the lead of Scandinavia where organic businesses are supported in selling into foodservice in schools. The Danish government aims for 60% of public sector catering to be organic before 2020.

Download a copy of the 2017 Organic Market Report