Organic Sales – a letter to The Grocer

In response to the article “What does organic have to do to kickstart sales?” (The Grocer, April 18 2009)

A plethora of journalists (including your own Kevin Hawkins) have been gagging to write about “The End Of Organics” so they can portray the move towards sustainable food as just another symptom of gullible middle-class Guardian readers being ripped-off by cynical retailers.  The reality is much more interesting. The meteoric growth of organic food over the last ten years has set the agenda for the food industry as a whole – natural, traceable and ethical are cornerstones of organic food production that are increasingly also part of the mainstream food industry. And therein lies the problem: organics is a victim of its own success. Organics offers so many “interlocking benefits” (in Peter Melchett’s phrase) that is often difficult to select those most appropriate to a specific product and consumer group. However work is underway to explain to consumers in simple, motivating language the benefits of buying organic. The government has a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, and in agriculture this can only be done by deriving fertility from sunshine and organic matter rather than from fossil fuel-based chemical fertilisers. Meanwhile, accounts of the end of organics are premature.

Simon Wright

OF+ Consulting