THE UK organic market is now worth more than ever at £2.2 billion, growing 6 per cent in 2017, with Wales leading the way in new licences, latest figures have shown.

The Soil Association’s 2018 Organic Market Report reveals the UK organic market has now had six years of steady growth, with organic accounting for 1.5 per cent of the total UK food and drink market.

Soil Association Certification licensees in Wales recorded growth of 7 per cent; higher than the UK average, with 30 per cent of all Welsh sales coming from meat and poultry.

Sales of organic beauty and wellbeing products in Wales also performed well in 2017, accounting for over a quarter of all licensee sales, with many of these being delivered to customers across the rest of the UK.

Overall 7.5 per cent of all organic spend in the UK is made in Wales and West of England. Wales has a high concentration of organic producers and processors, accounting for almost 12 per cent of the UK total.

Haydn Evans, Soil Association Farmer and Grower Board member, said, “I’m pleased to see such strong growth in the organic sector in Wales this past year, with two key Welsh industries – meat and poultry, and health and beauty – performing exceptionally well.

"While there are still challenges ahead, the work of the Welsh Organic Action Plan has helped influence government support for Welsh organic businesses, and will continue to play a major role post Brexit.”

Key trends highlighted in the report, for the whole of the UK, include:

• Supermarket sales of organic grew by 4.2 per cent in 2017, while non-organic supermarket sales increased by just over 2 per cent

• Independent retailers increased sales of organic by 9.7 per cent

• Sales of organic for home delivery, including box schemes, grew by 9.5 per cent and now account for almost 13 per cent of the organic market

• Sales in foodservice, including through the Organic Served Here scheme, grew by 10.2 per cent

• The organic and natural beauty market was worth £75.9 million in 2017, up 24 per cent

• Sales of organic textiles grew by 25 per cent

This year has seen booming sales in independent retail and home delivery: expanding online ranges, and growing interest in box schemes, means these areas are now growing at a faster rate than supermarket, and between them account for almost 30 per cent of the organic market.

Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at Soil Association Certification, said: “More and more people now understand what organic really means – both for health and for the environment – and people are placing increasing importance on knowing where their food has come from. The growth of independent retail and home delivery over the past couple of years, including more box schemes entering the market, is an opportunity – particularly for producers – to make the most of their provenance by offering customers the field-to-fork experience. And as online retail is able to adapt and expand quickly, there are plenty of opportunities to be a part of this growing market.”