The continuing decline of organic sales in the UK during 2011 has been blamed on a lack of support from the country's retail multiples and the UK government.

UK organic certification body the Soil Association has revealed that organic sales in the market dropped by 3.7% in 2011.

This compares to "strong" growth in all other major European markets, the US, Brazil, China and the rest of Asia. In total, global organic sales grew by 8% in the year, the organic body revealed.

According to Finn Cottle, Soil Association Certification Trade Consultant, a major reason why the UK is lagging international markets is a 5% drop in organic sales through supermarkets, which account for 71.4% of total sales.

"We believe the availability of products, and the support and investment behind organic products in the mass retail sector has been cut back over the past year," Cottle told just-food. "Organic brands have been leading strong consumer communication strategies and innovating strongly. But we are not seeing that same level of innovation from the retailers."

Also weighing on the growth of the sector is the unwillingness of the UK government to throw its weight behind organics, Cottle suggested.

"Another opportunity would be for us to have a political landscape that supports organic," she commented.

Cottle pointed to countries such as France, which have a government-led organic action plan, as examples of how government support has resulted in strong growth in the organic sector.

However, Cottle was also eager to highlight that the decline in organic sales in the UK has "stabilised".

Overall, organic sales declined from GBP1.73bn (US$2.73bn) in 2010 to GBP1.67bn in 2011 - a smaller slump than the previous year's 5.9%. She said that consumers are increasingly turning to specialist retailers, who offer a wider product assortment than the country's supermarkets, to meet their organic shopping needs.