NEW CAMPAIGN ENCOURAGES SHOPPERS TO CHOOSE ORGANIC
The campaign, managed by Organic Centre Wales (OCW), will be the first of its kind in Wales and will support the efforts of the nation's many organic farmers and producers who have helped to ensure that Wales punches well above its weight in terms of organic production. Welsh farmers continue to allocate around 8% of all agricultural land for organic production – twice as much as the rest of the UK.
The latest Organic Market Report, published annually by the Soil Association, shows that UK sales of organic produce are taking longer to recover following the recession and are lagging behind other European countries, as well as major markets like the US and China. The Soil Association report cites a “lack of communication about the reasons to buy organic” as one of the key barriers to growth, together with a sustained drop in supermarket sales.
The campaign will include posters outside supermarkets across Wales, radio and online advertising and an educational programme for schools; as well as a 12-month PR and social media campaign encouraging people to visit the Organic Centre Wales Facebook page [www.facebook.com/OrganicCentreWales] for organic recipe ideas, competitions and information about the benefits of sustainable production.
“The major multiples account for around 71% of the UK organics market and the percentage of organic certified products on their shelves has dropped off in recent years, although there is evidence that consumer demand has reversed this trend in certain product lines,” says Dafydd Owen, of Organic Centre Wales. “Part of our task is to ensure that consumers are well informed about the benefits of buying organic - whether in terms of health, taste, the environment or animal welfare – as well as exploding some of the myths that still exist.”
There are positives from the 2012 Soil Association report - 83% of households still buy some organic products, while 23p in every pound spent on fruit and vegetables goes on organically grown produce. Sales of organic lamb (+16%), poultry (+6.6%) and baby food (+5.8%) are all on the increase and the number of schools, nurseries, universities and hospitals serving organic food is also rising; while the growth in online sales of organic produce, through home delivery and box schemes, pumped an additional £11.2m into the market during 2011. In the non-food sector, sales of organic cosmetics have risen (+8.7%), with retail giant Tesco ranking health and beauty products amongst its highest performing organic categories.
A UK-wide campaign funded jointly by the EU and the Organic Trade Board managed by Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming – is moving into the second year of its own publicity campaign, for which it has already received the backing of Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsburys, as well as several well-known Welsh brands, including Rachel's and Calon Wen. Sustain's campaigns manager Catherine Fookes said;
“We had a fantastic response to our campaign in 2011, both from the industry and from consumers; many of whom are rediscovering why they used to buy organic produce in the past. Everyone has different motivations and reasons for buying organic and we are trying to remind people that just a small change in their shopping habits can make a huge difference.”
The Wales campaign will complement the UK-wide promotion of organic food, textiles and beauty products, while at the same time championing Welsh produce and producers. The campaign will also draw on the very latest information and research on organic production and produce to make sure that consumers are fully informed when they are making choices about which products to buy.
Dafydd Owen added; “The reputation and popularity of Welsh produce continues to grow, both here in Wales and further afield, and many of our leading producers use organic production methods. Our campaign will celebrate this and show people that it is possible to buy healthy and nutritious food that is produced locally, with less impact on the environment and at prices that are a lot lower than they expected.”
Note to editors:
• More information about organic produce can be found at www.organicukfood.com
• The latest Organic Market Report, published on the 2nd March 2012, can be found at http://www.soilassociation.org/marketreport
• Organic Centre Wales is the national resource for consumers, farmers and policy makers committed to more sustainable food and farming in Wales. Based at Aberystwyth University and run by a partnership consisting of the ADAS, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, and Aberystwyth University. See www.organiccentrewales.org.uk.
• Better Organic Business Links (BOBL) is an Organic Centre Wales project and has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project is designed to support the primary producer in Wales and grow the market for Welsh organic produce in a sustainable way. The project is developing new, emerging and existing markets for organic produce whilst driving innovation, at all levels, within the supply chain. The overall aim is to support a thriving Welsh organic sector so that the benefits of WG investment in the Organic Farming Scheme to generate agri-environmental benefits, and in the Welsh Organic Action Plan to support rural development and sustainable food production, can be fully realised.