Organic growth following horsegate

SALES OF ORGANIC food are up for the first time in almost four years thanks to the horse meat scandal and fears that chickens are now being fed GM soya.


The latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel reveal organic sales through supermarkets have increased steadily for the past three months. Market intelligence work carried out by the Soil Association also shows organic sales have increased through independent retailers, catering and online.


The figures come on the back of a positive general outlook for organic food, which follows a tough few years for the sector. The Soil Association Organic Market Report, released in March, highlighted catering as key area of growth for organic food in 2012. This year the sales revival could continue.


The Soil Association said that more and more consumers are turning to organic food following the discovery of horse meat in some beef products. Recent moves by some supermarkets to allow poultry to be fed genetically modified (GM) soya is also having an impact, said business development director Jim Twine.


“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,” he explained.


“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.”


Last month, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and the Co-op all removed requirements for their suppliers to give poultry only GM-free feed. Tesco has also done the same.


Some of the major foodservice companies have similar policies in place. McDonald’s said that as part of
 the standards it requires suppliers to meet, all poultry chickens and laying hens must 
be fed only non-GM soymeal and maize. A company spokeswoman confirmed:


“We’re following the retailers’ changes closely and we’re talking to our long-standing poultry and free-range egg suppliers about the changes that some retailers have announced, but at this time we don’t have any plans to change our supply chain requirements.”