A report from the Soil Association has said that the demand for organic food is at record levels in the UK.

But the organic certifier has warned that the market is increasingly dependent on imports and is demanding that the UK government does more to develop the sector in this country.

The Soil Association report is a boost for the organic industry as it suggests that the market contains a committed core of customers who are prepared to pay more often for organic foods. Almost two-thirds of UK households made an organic food purchase last year, compared with just over one-third two years ago according to the Soil Association's third annual report on organic food and farming.

Public concern over food quality has been one of the main reasons for growth of organics with its practices increasingly in tune with consumer perceptions that food developed this way is healthy.

However, the Soil Association is concerned that the watering down of organic standards and reliance of imports will hit the UK's growing £600m industry. The Association said 75% of the organic food in UK shops was imported - up 5% on 1999.

"The sad thing is that too few are buying British produce because most organic food is imported," said Soil Association director Patrick Holden. "What the government now needs to do is make sure there are better incentives for farmers who want to convert."

He added that the government should encourage green and organic farming practices after the current foot and mouth crisis is over.