A new study by the Soil Association has highlighted the need for British farmers to increase supplies of organic foods to domestic supermarket chains, or risk missing out on the boom in organic sales.
Figures published by the organic campaign group suggest that sales of organic foods are rising faster in Britain than in any other European country. During the last year, British shops sold £802m (US$1.1bn) worth of organic food. By sourcing at least 75% of their products abroad, however, supermarkets are keeping a stranglehold over the market and farm gate prices.
The Soil Association argues that because of the power held by supermarkets they are able to refuse to pay a fair rate for the home grown organic produce. They are also able, it argues, to increase market share at the expense of smaller organic businesses. For example, it points out, health food shops and home deliveries were the primary source of organic food five years ago. Now, 80% of the money spent on organic food is spent in supermarkets.