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UK: Organic farming's rise shows the strength of economic recovery
However, there is one sector of British farming to which this analysis does not apply, and that is – the organic sector. Demand for food in total is what the economists call 'inelastic'. In other words, it doesn't change much, regardless of whether the economy is booming or busting. Demand for organic food, on the other hand, is highly responsive to changes in the wider economy. When people have less money in their pockets, or when they are worried about their jobs or pensions, they are much less likely to fork out that little bit extra for an organic product.
Our most recent recession proves the point. From a record high of over £2 billion in 2008, sales of organic products of all sorts basically fell off a cliff. In the five years up to 2012/13, the organic market shrank by over 5 per cent per year. That has inevitably taken its toll, both of organic farmers and growers and of organically farmed land, to the extent that even the Soil Association was forced to admit earlier this year that confidence among producers was 'fragile'.
But now the good news: the organic market grew by 2.8 per cent in 2013, and that trend is continuing. The market research company, Nielsen, recently reported that organic sales were up by 3.2 per cent in the four weeks to August 16, compared with the same period last year. Current projections suggest that the organic market will not recover the ground lost in the recession until 2018, but – barring unforeseen disasters – the only way would appear to be up.
That is particularly good news for the West Country, where there are more organic farmers and more organic land than any other region. For as long as its spokesmen can focus on promoting the inherent virtues of their brand of farming, rather than simply knocking the conventional variety, then organic farming is a force for good – not only good soil management and a better farmed environment, but also its social impact. Organic farming is one of the very few options open to small-scale family and start-up farming businesses. A growing organic market will have a far more beneficial impact on our smaller farmers – and thus on the nature of rural society – than any number of tweaks to the subsidy regime.
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Other news in this sector:
- 2020-07-23 Organic produce experiences deflationary prices during pandemic
- 2020-07-21 Strong first season for inaugural organic cauliflower production
- 2020-07-15 National Farmers’ Federation supports Australian Organic’s request for tighter regulations
- 2020-07-14 Organic wholesaler focuses on more traditional, homozygous vegetables
- 2020-07-13 The Dominican Republic: Main exporter of organic bananas to Europe
- 2020-07-13 Impact of COVID-19 on organic produce has been minimal in the US
- 2020-07-13 Organic seedless grapes highly requested abroad
- 2020-07-10 Organic produce: “Keep that supply chain full”
- 2020-07-10 Spanish organic surface grew by 4.8% in 2019, reaching 2.35 million hectares
- 2020-07-08 "Fresh organic garlic yield should be sufficient to serve the market into August"
- 2020-07-08 Danish organic fruit and vegetable sales up 143% over the last 4 years
- 2020-07-01 Boost to organic agriculture in Mahaweli
- 2020-07-01 Homegrown Organic Farms announces two new additions to sales team
- 2020-06-24 Funding boost for organic growing operations
- 2020-06-22 Organic courgettes and cucumbers see a boom in orders, requested mainly from Northern Europe
- 2020-06-19 Awe Sum Organics teams up with Californian stone fruit producer
- 2020-06-18 Organic fresh produce sales continue double digit growth in May
- 2020-06-18 New Zealand shoppers want clarity on organic produce standards
- 2020-06-18 Brazil sees 15% annual growth of organic products category
- 2020-06-17 "Brazil represents a great opportunity for Chilean organic products"