Melissa Kidd (Soil Association Information Officer) gives expert video advice on: How can I make my business more organic? and more...
Is the organic industry a good way of making money?
There is a lot of opportunity to make money in the organic industry. The market is growing. It's about 3 to 4 percent, which is enormous compared to other food and drink markets that only grow about one percent. It's booming. There's really never been a better time for the organic market. Special areas are dairy and baby food; they're the biggest sellers. However, bear in mind that, generally, organic consumers are really quite switched on. They want to know about the ethics of your company. They want to be sure that it's not just "green wash"; that there is actually some substance behind your company. So, yes, I would say that if you research the market properly, and you're an ethically robust company, then you should be able to make some money.
What are the most popular organic products?
The most popular organic products tend to be organic baby food. Over half of all baby food sales are organic. And this year we've seen a huge increase in dairy products because of the research that's shown that it contains so many more nutrients than non-organic. And for just a few more pence, it makes a lot more sense for people to buy organic. So dairy products and baby foods are the most popular sorts of organic food, but I'd have thought chocolate can't be too far behind it.
Are there areas where organic produce has failed to be successful?
The only organic product I can think of that's failed would probably be Soil Association organic eggs. And the reason is because our organic animal welfare standards are probably the highest in the world. And this has meant that the costs of production have increased. And so organic producers only have 7% of that market because retailers don't think that consumers are willing to pay the extra amount for organic eggs. So, the reason we would say that organic eggs have failed is because our standards are so much higher.
Is there a difference between organic licences for farmers markets and those for shops?
When producers sell goods, so for example in a shop if you're buying loose newsleaf for example. Then the shop itself would have to have a license, generally. If you're buying from a farmer's market then you can tell that the producers organic because he will have those sausages on his trading schedule and he should have that trading schedule on view. So you can see that, okay at least they don't have a label on them but the sausages are on his trading schedule, so you can see that he is a licensed farmer. If you're buying food from a shop that doesn't have an organic license, but they are selling some organic food, as long as it is pre-packaged. So for example a tin of tomatoes: the shop wouldn't have to have a license to sell those tomatoes to you because it's already pre-packed, so no worries of substitution. This is how in a supermarket, you can buy apples that are organic, but they're always in plastic, because supermarkets didn't want to have a license for all of their shops. So they buy pre-packaged organic food, so therefore you can buy organic foods without having a license.