The Organic and Healthy Food Market

Recent research by market analysts vision suggests four in ten adults now choose organic options on a regular basis. Organic supermarkets in England are booming and Europe’s biggest organic event, the Biofach exhibition in Germany in getting bigger every year. Unfortunately, at the moment retailers are charging artificially high prices. I was in Tesco last week which is a rare occurrence as I shop locally where possible, and I nearly died when I saw the prices being charged for organic yogurt and eggs compared to the non-organic brands. Its about time that the government started to investigate these organic suppliers and supermarkets to see who is ripping us off! Encouraging competition is not always a good idea as this can drives down prices (good for the consumer) which can put organic suppliers out of business if they have small profit margins. I understand that we have to pay more for organic produce because there are more crop failures due to the fact that the farmers cannot use pesticides, but what is an acceptable percentage and does this vary from product to product. Should organic fish be 10 percent more expensive than non organic fish and vegetables 20 per cent etc?

Once only available in small health shops or farmers markets, organic foods are becoming much more widely available. In the past 10 years sales of organic food in the UK have increased over 10-fold from £100m in 1993/94 to nearly £1.4bn in 2004/05. This large growth is predicted to continue, and many companies are jumping into the market. Sales through farmers markets and farm shops have grown faster than any other retail outlet. Organic food and drink now accounts for 1.2 per cent of the total retail market (Source Soil Association).

There are two types of organic foods.

Fresh food

Fresh food is seasonal and perishable. Vegetables and fruits are the most available type of organic, fresh food, and are closely associated with organic farming. They are often purchased directly from growers, at farmers markets, supermarkets or through specialty food stores. Organic meat, eggs, dairy are also available.

Processed food

Processed food accounts for most of the items in a supermarket. Often, within the same store, both organic and conventional versions of products are available, and the price of the organic version is usually higher as already mentioned. Most processed organic food comes from larger companies producing and marketing products like organic baby food, organic beer, organic pasta or other convenience foods.

How do I know its organic?

The term organic is defined by law – all organic food production and processing is governed by a strict set of rules. Look for symbols such as the Soil Association symbol for your guarantee of the highest organic standards. The Soil Association organic symbol is the UK’s largest and most recognizable trademark for organic produce. Wherever you see it you can be sure that the food you have purchased has been produced and processed to strict and rigorous animal welfare and environmental standards. Other symbols to look out for include the Organic Food Federation and Certified Organic Ingredients.

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