A report accusing the UK’s leading supermarket chains of overpricing organic goods has been suppressed by organic foods body the Soil Association, it was claimed this weekend.
The study, which was authored by Dr Anna Ross, senior economist with the University of the West of England, compared prices for organic goods in local farm shops and the leading retailers. The same basket of vegetables bought in a sample of farm shops were found to be 63% more expensive in market leader Tesco; 59% more expensive in Sainsbury’s; and 38% more expensive in Waitrose.
Meanwhile, Ross found that organic meat cost on average 64% more in supermarkets than on local farmers’ markets.
The study was due to be published in the Association’s quarterly magazine, Living Earth, but director Patrick Holden admitted on Saturday that he ordered it withdrawn from the newsletter.
Holden told the Independent On Sunday that he was concerned that the study gave out the wrong message. He maintained that if supermarkets squeeze prices any further, farmers will see their profits fall unreasonably and many will risk bankruptcy.
Dr Ross however accuses the Soil Association of being “too busy trying not to upset the supermarkets” and encouraged consumers to shop elsewhere for better value organics.
Supermarket currently control 80% of the organic foods market in the UK, which grew by 33% last year to reach £802m (US$1.151bn).