The UK is the second biggest organic market in Europe but it is still a long way behind Germany (2.1 billion pounds in 2002). However, evidence that higher prices remain the most prominent barrier to consumer acceptance of natural and organic food and drinks is all apparent.
This suggests that, whilst opportunities are open to manufacturers and retailers, educating consumers on the benefits of organic and natural food and drinks is vital. Otherwise, marketers are going to find it increasingly difficult to justify the current price premiums in existence, said Daniel Bone, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst and author of the report.
The number of UK loyal users of organic products, consumers who adopt an organic ethos and buy organic food and drinks from a range of product categories on a weekly basis, is set to grow from 2.4 million in 2002 to 11.4 million in 2007. Organic meat is set to have the largest gains and the market is predicted to more than double, from 152 million pounds in 2002 to 351 million pounds in 2007. Organic ready meals are forecast to grow at an annual compound growth rate of almost 17 per cent over the same period. Consumer demand for better quality and tasting food and drinks has also lead to steady growth in the UK fresh foods market, which will grow to exceed 25 billion pounds between 2002 and 2007.
Loss of trust and confidence in the food industry has been a great growth factor, Datamonitors research found. Consumers are increasingly conscious about safety of food stuffs, methods of production and the ingredients used.
The bulk of consumers of organic products are mainly between the ages of 25 and 55, peaking between 36 and 45. Other key life events, such as childbirth, menopause, empty nesthood and senior lifestyles, are also trigger points for natural food adoption. Research indicates that over 50 per cent of consumers trust organic and natural products, said Bone.