Organic Articles: Organic Pioneer Profile

The Organic Consultancy

Organic Pioneer Profile

Simon Wright has long been a driving force in the UK organic market. Simon began his organic career in 1986 with Whole Earth Foods, where in addition to working on the pioneering Whole Earth range of organic wholefoods he helped to create and launch the successful Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate brand.

Since then Simon has gone on to found The Organic Consultancy and worked with numerous companies throughout Europe and the USA to develop and launch a number of high profile organic food and drink products. Current clients of The Organic Consultancy include Free Natural (organic liquorice and pretzels), Clipper (organic tea and coffee), The Organic Spirit Company (award winning organic gin, vodka and rum), Planet Organic (specialist organic retailer), Lyme Regis Fine Foods (organic snack bars) and Tradin NV (the worlds largest supplier of organic ingredients for further processing). Simon is also organic consultant to Sainsbury’s Supermarket Limited who are leading the development of multiple organic retailing in the UK with over 1350 organic lines on sale in their larger stores. Simon is Consultant Editor and Comment writer for the magazines organiclife and Organic Business.

Simon kindly spoke to Simply Organic about the UK organic market

What have been the main drivers of the UK organic market over the last 5 years?

One of the main drivers of recent years has been the well publicised problems with non-ogranic foods which consumers in the UK have been faced with such as BSE/GM/ Foot and Mouth disease, pesticide residues and concerns over additives. All of these have led many UK consumers to look for an alternative which they perceive to be safe and that delivers high quality food.

What would you say is motivating people to go organic?

The UK retail market for organic food is now estimated to have passed the 1billion per year mark. Supermarkets sell 80% of all organic food consumed in the UK and 75% of all UK households bought at least one organic item in the last 12 months. The main reasons to buy organic given by UK consumers (in order of priority) are:

  • Taste
  • Health
  • No pesticides
  • Animal welfare
  • No hormones
  • Pure and natural

It’s interesting to note that selfish reasons (taste and health) are the main motivation for buying organic by the mainstream consumer and that environmental care issues are still a secondary consideration.

How have consumer perceptions towards organics changed as the market has developed?

Today’s consumer is more mainstream than that of even two years ago, so taste, presentation and price are paramount. Distribution is much less of an issue with all large retailers now having reasonable ranges of organic foods and some having excellent selection – Sainsbury’s now has 1,350 organic lines in their bigger stores.

Where do you see the UK organic market going in the future?

The main focus must be on delivering great tasting products at acceptable price premiums whilst explaining to consumers what organic means (and why it costs more). We are lucky in the UK, for the first time we have a sympathetic government, currently working on an Organic Action Plan (OAP), which will really boost the market. The OAP is an initiative that brings together representatives from farmers, retailers, processors, consumers and certifying bodies in order to develop plans to stimulate both organic production and demand for organic products. We are currently halfway through the initial consultation period, with the initial recommendations to go to the minister in July – a very fast track project !

For more information about Simon Wright’s company ‘The Organic Consultancy’ visit www.organic-consultancy.com