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Organic goes mainstream

by James Hand | 10 September 2018

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Organic farming has been around since farming began – indeed all farming until pretty recently was organic. But with the industrial revolution came inorganic methods using chemicals, and increased mechanisation lent itself to farming larger areas and relying more on herbicides and fertilisers. Further technological advances in World War II, in particular with use of ammonium nitrate and DDT, a pesticide used to control insects around troops, brought new non-organic opportunities.

As a result, during the 20th century, the organic movement was born, as some consumers wanted to buy food that relied less heavily on chemicals and had a reduced impact on the environment.

By the 1970s organic products could be found in health food shops, but were far from filling the shelves of mainstream retailers.

However, the market has grown consistently in recent years,  and is worth 2.2 billion in the UK alone with 8,000 outlets now selling organic nationwide. These days almost every food and drink product has an organic cousin, and they are no longer tucked away in obscure corners of the supermarket. There are currently more than 500 supermarket own or independent brands to choose from and one third of these are solely organic.

Giki’s analysis of over 117,000 supermarket food and drink products indicates that the organic revolution has had the biggest impact on baby products:

  • More than half of all baby foods are now organic,
  • 1 in 7 of Baby milks and juices are organic,
  • Organic brands to look out for include Babease, Asda Little Angels, HiPP Organic and Sainsbury’s Little Ones’ Organic.

Organic dairy products, especially milk alternatives are also very popular.

  • More than one third of milk substitutes, including almond, oat and soya are organic.
  • Brands such as Rebel Kitchen, Rude Health, Rice Dream and Alpro all offer organic milk alternatives.
  • Organic cheese is harder to find, with just 2% being organic. However, Waitrose Duchy Organic, Sainsbury’s SO Organic, Lye Cross Farm, Calon Wen and Godminster do offer a decent selection.
Source: Giki Social Enterprise September 2018

Fresh organic fruit and vegetables are also available at all major supermarkets such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and:

  • More than three quarters of all fruit and veg categories provide at least one organic alternative.
  • Organic courgettes, cucumbers and pears are most widely available, with over a quarter of these being organic.
  • However, at the other end of the scale, organic peaches, radishes and rhubarb remain pretty rare.

All in all, most products have an organic alternative and the fact that they are available at most major supermarkets means that they’re much easier to access. However, we’d love to hear from you if you find any organic peaches, radishes or rhubarb!