Reacting to the announcement today that Tesco supermarket intends to grow its organic food sales to £1 billion within five years Soil Association Director Patrick Holden, said:

"This is a welcome recognition by Tesco that the company has to meet the demands of its customers who increasingly want to buy organic food.

" However, three-quarters of organic food in the UK is currently imported and it is vital that Tesco operates a British first policy, giving preference to organic food from UK sources instead of cheaper imports.

"Tesco has said that it is already cutting the price of organic produce in its stores. The combination of supermarket price wars and a lamentable failure to be loyal to UK producers has driven the price that most dairy, beef and sheep producers receive to below the cost of production.  As a direct result thousands of British farmers are facing bankruptcy.

"Supermarkets must recognise that they have to pay a fair price for organic produce. Organic farmers need to be assured that supermarkets will support them by paying a price that reflects the true cost of production.

"The one billion pounds of organic trade that Tesco aims to achieve within 5 years has the potential to help improve food quality and animal welfare, and benefit the environment, but only if the mistakes that have been made in the non-organic trading area are not repeated. An organic pledge from Tesco supporting our concerns would make a major difference."